Suing on foreign ground

Upon reaching our destination overseas, we had to take a shuttle from the landing strip to the designated terminal. In the shuttle, I held on to the handle for support which snapped when the driver braked sharply. I fell on my back and hit my head on the ground. This resulted in me sustaining serious back and head injuries. I contacted my travel agent, who said that I could not sue anyone because I was in a foreign country and had no contract at the time of the incident. What should I do?
20 February 2012

Your travel agent is not your legal advisor and should perhaps limit its advice to travel matters. We say so because they are absolutely wrong. Being in a different country does not mean that you cannot sue someone. Not having a contract is also no ground for not being able to sue.

You travelled with an airline. You will have to refer to the terms of carriage and see at what points the airline is responsible for your journey. Is it from terminal to terminal or is it from the rail of the aircraft when you enter, to the time you disembark? If it is from terminal to terminal, then you have a contract with your airline, which means you can sue them for these injuries. They would likely be in breach of safely transporting you.

If the airline’s contract is from the point of entry into the aircraft to the point of exit, you can still sue under the law of tort. Under tort, you do not need a contract. The simple questions to ask are: a) whether the person who caused the injury had a duty of care and b) whether there was a breach of that duty, that resulted in the injury or harm. In your case, we answer all these questions in the affirmative and believe you have a good case. Your attorneys can guide you on whom to sue but it could be the shuttle owners, airport/airport authority, airline and/or even the driver.