Injured People

Major claims series, part 1: Recovering the cost of travel

TGB’s personal injury team writes about the impact of catastrophic injury on interstate and overseas travel plans, and the compensation process.


If a person has a catastrophic injury, it is usually a spinal (paraplegia or tetraplegia injury) or brain injury, or in the most serious circumstances both forms of injury.

Catastrophic injuries are life changing to the most extreme extent and impact a person’s ability to travel, particularly interstate and overseas, due to mobility restrictions, care needs and increased costs.

People in wheelchairs are usually unable to fly in economy class. In business or first class the seats are bigger and there is more room to accommodate a wheelchair, and getting in and out as required. This is particularly important when travelling overseas and the flights are long. The seating upgrade carries an increased cost and isn’t a choice, but a necessity. 

When a person with a catastrophic injury arrives at their destination and begins their holiday, there are also many other extra financial considerations. There may be a need to hire a specially modified vehicle as taxis and other forms of public transport may not be suitable or available. The person may also need a modified room which may need to be bigger and have greater access (for example, on a ground floor). Not all hotels can accommodate such needs, which may mean that a person in this situation must find a more expensive place to stay. 

A person with a brain or spinal injury may also need the support of a carer while away. If the carer is a family member or friend there wouldn’t be a cost, but those who do not have an available relative or friend may need to pay a professional to support them. This can be one of the most significant costs of the entire trip.

Lawyers assisting people with catastrophic injury claims will often work closely with expert travel agents who specialise in interstate and overseas trips for people with these unique requirements. Through their experience in this area of travel they are aware of where these increased costs often arise, which helps us as lawyers cover all needs in the compensation claim.

Flights, accommodation and support are just a few of the considerations. We also factor in what the person would normally do on a holiday, where they like to go and how often they would usually travel interstate or overseas. These are important factors that are considered when calculating a total compensation figure. The whole aim of the system is to return the person to the position they were in before the accident occurred. If he or she is a regular traveller or had a planned trip, then the court is more likely to find these allowances acceptable. A lot of the time it comes down to what the person did in the past, and what they had planned for the future.

Read PART 2: Home modifications here

Read PART 3: Personal care here

Read PART 4: Vehicle Modifications here

TGB is a leading personal injury law firm with significant experience in catastrophic injury claims. If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident in South Australia, Northern Territory or Western Australia, contact your nearest TGB office or register for a free initial appointment here.