Accident with bus in Portugal
On 17 June 2015 Dutch holiday makers were involved in a serious bus accident in Portugal. Near Faro a transfer bus carrying passengers from Faro Airport to Portimão swerved off the road into a ditch. Four of the 34 Dutch nationals on the bus were killed in this sad accident. In addition, 26 people were injured. The Portuguese authorities are carrying out an investigation, focusing on the cause of the accident and who was responsible.
The victims and their families must cope with the aftermath of this tragic event. At this point there is no reason to take swift legal action and hold parties liable that might be involved. The law of the country where the accident occurred usually decides whether someone is liable and if so, who. Victims and their families, however, do not necessarily have to file claims for compensation in a foreign country in a foreign language.
The Netherlands has the ‘Travel Contract Act’. If a trip does not meet reasonable expectations and the tour operator cannot demonstrate that it is not to blame, the Dutch tour operator where the trip has been booked in principle has to compensate the damage. The tour operator should also render and pay for practical assistance.
In principle, tour operators cannot exclude or limit their liability for damage caused by the death or injuries of travelers. Even if tour operators use local partners for transportation they will be liable if accidents can be attributed to the persons engaged in the execution of such contracts of carriage. It appears that in this particular case this was the bus driver.
Under the Dutch Travel Contract Act victims and their families must file claims with the tour operator within one year.
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