by Alex Tritsibidas - Attorney at Law, November 1998
Auto Accidents - What Should You Do ? Part 2
In September we covered the first four topics of stopping and ex-changing information with the other driver; witnesses; giving help and keeping calm. Also, we specified 104 as the telephone number to get breakdown help from the ELPA motoring organisation. This is the case when travelling on the mainland, but on Paros you need to call 01-104.
Read on for information on who pays for the damages; what to do if the other driver does not have insurance; if someone sues you and seeing your lawyer.
5. Report the accident: As in every country of the world, you must report the accident, (a) to the police (as soon as possible) and (b) to your insurance company (within 3 days of the accident).
Often a police car or motor-cycle will come to the scene or the accident. If not, you or the other driver should call the police, especially if someone is injured.
When someone is injured at the accident, you and the other persons involved will have to give a statement under oath to the police about how it happened. After the statement you will be free to go home unless: (a) You didn’t render help to the injured although you could have done so (see 3 above); (b) You didn’t report the accident asap to the police or tried to “hit and run”; (c) You tried to destroy or conceal the evidence at the scene of the accident in order to alter police findings (art. 43, section 2 TCC).
6. Who pays for the damages?: That depends mainly on whose fault the accident was and on what kind of insurance you have. In Greece, the usual insurance policy covers third party liability only. If you are to blame for the accident, your insurance will pay the other driver for his property damage and personal injury up to the policy limits. You should be prepared to pay any amount above those limits. Also, you will have to pay for your own damages.
If the other driver is at fault, his insurance will have to pay for your property damage and your personal injury.
If you have collision insurance, your insurance will pay for the damages to your car and later may try to get the money back from the other driver or his insurance.
When both drivers are at fault, you will both be able to collect from each other an amount reduced according to the degree of your negligence. How much each of you collects from the other depends on the amount of your damages and on how much each is at fault.
Should you give your car to a friend and he has an accident, again your insurance will pay the other driver if your friend was at fault, but you will have to pay for your own damages unless you prefer to sue your friend and the court orders him to pay you for the damages of your car. If the other driver is to blame for the accident, his insurance will have to pay you for your damages.
7. If the other driver does not have insurance: In Greece every car owner and/or driver must have insurance for third party liability (law 489/1976). This insurance will cover damages to property, personal injury and death up to a certain policy limit. If one does not have insurance he can be jailed for up to six months, fined 50,000drs or both.
But what about your damages? You will have to sue the other driver in order to collect your compensation. However, even if you win the case you will be able to collect only if he has enough money or property in his name. If he doesn’t have anything in his name you could force him to pay by requesting his imprisonment from the court. Non-payment could result in his imprisonment for up to one year. However, taking a case like this to the courts could be a lengthy procedure before you are awarded your compensation.
In view of this, an out of court settlement by compromise could be preferable in certain cases. Your lawyer will be instrumental at the negotiations for your compensation and preparing the relevant receipts and release forms.
8. If someone sues you: You should notify your insurance company and/or your lawyer as soon as possible. You must hand them all court papers which were served on you in relation with the accident.
Your insurance company, in compliance with your policy, will assign a lawyer to handle your case, at their own expense.
If you are sued for more money than your policy limit and lose the case, you should be prepared to pay the difference from your own pocket. In this case it is advisable to hire your own attorney from the beginning who will collaborate with the insurance lawyer in defending you at the court. If the accident was not your fault and the money offered to you by the other driver and/or his insurance are not enough to cover your damages, you may want to sue them.
9. See your lawyer: In any case, the first person you should talk to is your lawyer. Give him the facts. He will listen to you carefully and tell you what to do. If he doesn’t practice in this field of the law he will recommend another lawyer who does.
Having an auto accident can be a big problem, especially if you are in a foreign country. The first step to solve it is to get good legal advice.
For further information, telephone Alex Tritsibidas on 22481.
Editor’s Note: We would remind you to exercise extreme caution when driving in Paros after the first rains, as the roads become dangerously slippery due to the tyre rubber and oil which becomes deposited on the surface of the roads during the dry summer months.