Injured While Traveling In Alaska --- What Should a Tourist Do?

Hopefully, any vacation you take in Alaska will be memorable for happy reasons. That said, it's always important to prepare for the possibility of injuries.

From Figure 4 of the 2011 Alaska Surveillance Injury Report, we see that around 27% of all non-resident deaths in Atlanta are a result of unintentional injuries, which include many kinds of motor vehicle accidents; beyond the fatalities, there are many more non-fatal but still serious injuries. Injuries can occur under all kinds of circumstances, from slipping and falling in your hotel room to suffering hypothermia or broken bones on a wilderness hike.

If you're a tourist, what should you do if you're injured while traveling in Alaska?

Prior to any injury, focus on prevention

Many injuries can be prevented. For instance, a frequent cause of tourist injuries and death in Alaska are vehicular crashes. Making sure your car is in good condition, obeying traffic regulations, and driving responsibly are essential. In case your car breaks down, packing spare equipment (e.g. spare tires, flashlight with batteries), food, water, blankets, a first aid kit, and a safe portable heat source are important. Because many areas don't have reliable cellphone coverage, you should also look into other ways of summoning help, such as a special radio.

Similar precautions can be taken under any situation that poses a risk. For instance, if you're hiking, it would be a terrible idea to go off on a hike unprepared, with no maps, no supplies, and little knowledge of the terrain, weather, and natural hazards.

In general, you would benefit from taking a basic first aid safety course and learning CPR, as this could save lives or reduce the severity of injuries in a wide variety of situations.

Summoning medical help

Assess the nature of the injury, making note of even minor symptoms; sometimes a minor symptom, such as a mild headache or slight ringing in the ears, could indicate a more serious problem. Make sure no one else is in immediate danger, and administer CPR if necessary. And of course, make it an immediate priority to call for help.

If you're in a city or large town, it should be relatively more easy to obtain the assistance of medical personnel and police. In more remote areas, hopefully you'll have equipment on you to signal for help or contact authorities; remember, cellphones aren't always adequate, so you need to look into other options.

If you're part of a tour group, the tour operators should have reliable ways to summon help, whether it's an ambulance or a coast guard vessel to come rescue the group if you're all stranded. When tour operators lack effective ways to summon help, it's a sign of negligence.

Taking stock of what happened

Record all the details of the accident, including documenting them with photos if possible. For motor vehicle crashes, you should exchange information with the other driver, including names, license plate numbers, insurance company and policy numbers.

Don't claim responsibility or fault for what happened, and don't be quick to release anyone else from their responsibilities. For instance, if a tour operator was behaving irresponsibly, was improperly trained, or didn't prepare for different emergency situations by providing the right safety equipment, extra food, and other supplies, make note of this. Likewise, if the hotel where you were injured posed preventable hazards that may have contributed to your injury, whether it was a fire door that was stuck or a stairwell that was badly lit, record this.

Dealing with the costs

Injuries extract financial, physical and emotional costs. In the aftermath of suffering an injury, keep meticulous track of all bills you need to pay and any ongoing symptoms.

You'll also need to deal with insurance companies, and possibly struggle with them over various issues including out-of-state coverage for medical services.

Furthermore, if you suspect that someone else's negligence did contribute to your injury, it's important to address this. Tourists often make the mistake of ignoring the issue of negligence, returning to their homes and coping as best they can with their injuries while the negligent parties never get held accountable.

Don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. Experienced lawyers who are based in the state and familiar with its laws and regulations can advise you on what to do if you've been injured as a tourist in Alaska.

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