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Can I Sue When Injured Abroad? Everything You Need To Know!

Let’s say your dear friend Diedrich Salazar was enjoying a school trip overseas when a very large cinder block fell from a construction site. After an 18-story descent, the block smashed squarely into Salazar’s abnormally small head. Due to the physical constraints of velocity, the angling of the block when it hit Salazar, and a variety of very complicated factors you may or may not have learned about in high school physics class, he survived with only almost life-threatening injuries.

Can your buddy Salazar sue for hospital bills?

First and foremost, you probably already know that Salazar is in for the long haul. International personal injury claims are not easy. Each country has its own laws. A state or province can have laws that differ from the first set of laws. You need to know which laws matter, and which laws take precedence over the other laws! And some countries don’t even allow this type of litigation. Their people believe that accidents simply happen. 

Second, Salazar should treat the case like any other. He should collect his medical bills, speak to witnesses, file a report with the police, make a journal documenting his very slow recovery, and then contact a lawyer to inquire about filing a claim.

It’s possible you can find an international lawyer, and then file or process the claim while in the United States, even if you were injured abroad. Don’t be surprised if your lawyer needs a few days for research purposes — especially if the injury happened to occur in Ethiopia, where there are probably few American travelers who need to file lawsuits. 

Because of the web of laws and the complexity of acquiring compensation for a personal injury that was sustained in another country, such claims can result in a very long wait period. For many people, it’s not worth the trouble. But of course, Salazar’s injury was serious, he’s just a kid, and he probably can’t pay for this even after working for a few decades — especially not when he’s on disability.