Taking a flight to Cuba from Miami is now possible for the first time in more than 50 years. Mass travel between the U.S. and Cuba reinitiated after a half-century embargo when President Obama announced a restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time since 1961. Today, people visiting family members and those on academic trips can fly straight from Miami to Cuba on American Airlines.
Last month, the first commercial flight since the start of the embargo took off from Miami and successfully landed in Cuba. Hundreds of U.S. citizens have already booked their flights, most of whom visiting the country for the first time. While we all wish for safe travels, injuries do occur overseas. Here’s what to do if you suffer an injury in Cuba or another foreign country.
1. Locate a Health Care Provider
You may not have the means to seek proper health care for your injuries or know quite where to go for medical treatment. The International Society of Travel Medicine has a directory of health care professionals in about 50 countries that can help you find a provider abroad. It’s wise to research your health care options in Cuba before traveling in case of a catastrophic injury. You may not have the time to research medical professionals after sustaining a serious injury.
In the event that you require a medical evacuation back to America, contact the closest U.S. Embassy. Visit www.usembassy.gov to find the closest one to you. The Embassy will be able to arrange for your evacuation provider, although you must pay the costs for this service. Before you take a trip to another country, consider purchasing travel insurance. You may not think you’ll need it, but you’ll thank yourself if you sustain an injury in a country where you don’t know anybody or speak the same language.
If you have travel insurance, contact your insurance provider’s hotline and speak to a representative. Let him or her know about your injuries. The representative will give you directions to the nearest medical facility, inform your emergency contact of your accident, and follow up with you to ensure your safety. Travel insurance with medical evacuation coverage provides a traveler total peace of mind while in Cuba or other countries, as it will arrange and pay for a medical evacuation on your behalf.
2. Hire a Vacation Injury Attorney
If you believe someone else’s negligence caused your injuries, seek the help of a vacation injury attorney. For example, if a careless hotel manager in Havana left a hazardous spill in the lobby and you fall and break your hip, you may be eligible to receive compensation. Just because you aren’t in your home country doesn’t mean you lose your right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
The most important question to ask when dealing with an out-of-country lawsuit is, “Does my attorney have what it takes to represent my case?” If you already have an attorney you’re familiar with, but he or she is not equipped to handle cases in a different country, hire one who specializes in international or vacation injuries. Take a good look at your case and assess what an attorney needs to help you win the best settlement possible from an accident in Cuba or elsewhere.
A vacation injury attorney should be well versed in a country’s laws, with prior experience in the type of lawsuit you’re pursuing. Each personal injury case is unique, especially when dealing with accidents in other countries. You may or may not want to hire an out-of-country attorney depending on the circumstances. However, know that the option is available. Pursuing an out-of-country claim can be complex, but it’s worth it if you’ve suffered catastrophic injury