If you have been involved in a road accident, you should be able to remain calm and document what happened because your personal report is not always enough to obtain the right refund.
A road accident can have many causes, as well as many consequences. Being an experienced driver does not necessarily mean being safe from any accident, for various reasons: too many distracted or inadequate drivers on the road; possible adverse weather conditions; non-optimal vehicle conditions; pitfalls and perils on the road.
In an extreme situation like an accident it is not easy, but it is nevertheless essential, to remain calm. Even if you are not primarily responsible for the accident, it is advisable to be guided by common sense.
What does common sense recommend?
Firstly, it is necessary to understand what consequences the accident had caused.
- Never linger on the road waiting for aid.
- Report your presence to prevent other vehicles from being further involved in the accident.
- Whenever possible, take pictures to document what happened.
- Whenever possible, provide assistance to other people involved, also by simply calling the emergency services. Failure to provide assistance is a felony liable to imprisonment.
- Do not move any injured unless it is absolutely necessary.
- In the event of an accident causing deaths or injured, do not move the vehicles involved so to allow the Police to carry out the necessary surveys. If this is not the case, vehicles should be moved from the accident location.
- Exchange data and identification details with the other drivers involved, i.e. driver's license, vehicle registration certificate and car insurance. If someone of the person involved in the accident refuses to provide his/her data, you shall be entitled to call the Police.
- If there are any witnesses, you can rely on their statements to reconstruct how the accident occurred. The ideal would be to obtain their written declaration. Your passengers can also provide their witness on the accident.
- People involved should see a doctor within 48 hours of the accident, even in the case of the slightest suspicion of physical injuries. The medical report could be a key document in case of a possible claim for damages.
Drivers should always keep in their vehicle the CID, a jointly-agreed statement for insurance purposes to fill in and sign in case of a road accident; it serves to describe causes and dynamics of the road accident.
If there is agreement between the parties involved, the consensual signing of the above mentioned form will accelerate the reimbursement or claim procedures.
Since 2003 an additional sheet has been added to the CID form to give details about any witnesses of the accident, the owners of vehicles, as well as any injured. This form can be used if only two motor vehicles have been involved in the accident (except for motorcycles and agricultural machines). In case of a crash involving more than 2 vehicles, parties must fill out additional accident reports so to include all vehicles involved . If the reconstruction of the accident – based on the statement made by one of the parties – is not convincing, the form shall not be signed, as the current state of emotional fragility could backfire on the other party. Accidents without any victims or injured can be settle without asking for the intervention of the Police, unless multiple vehicles have been involved, any of the drivers involved is not covered by valid and effective insurance or, worse still, the driver is responsible under criminal law, or if the accident should compromised the normal road traffic.
Those who have suffered physical or material damages as a result of the road accident can apply for compensation from the insurance company of the responsible person (or persons unknown if data are not available). According to art. 2043 of the Italian Civil Code, anyone who causes unjust damage to third parties, at fault or negligent, should provide for compensation for that damage. The claim to one's insurance company shall be make within three days, both personally and by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt or by certified mail. In case of serious damages, it is advisable to contact an experienced lawyer in the field of compensation who can provide the claimant with expert legal assistance.
Within 60 days the applicant will receive the offer of compensation for damage to property, and within 90 days that for personal injury. The signing of the CID reduces waiting times to 30 days. If physical damages are significant and multiple vehicles have been involved in the accident, it is necessary to contact the insurance company of those who, in whole or in part, have caused the accident, namely the civilly liable party.
Passenger transported deserves a special mention: the Insurance Policy of the vehicle on which they travel will cover any damages, even if the accident was due to the driver's fault .
Foreign vehicles bearing a registration plate regularly delivered in one of the EU countries or road accidents involving Italian citizens abroad
The body responsible to intervene in case of accidents occurred on the Italian territory caused by a motor vehicle bearing a registration plate regularly delivered in one of the EU countries (that are part of the "Green Card" system – international insurance which allows a motor vehicles to be considered validly insured in the visited Country), is the Ufficio Centrale Italiano (UCI) – the National Car Insurance bureau for the cross border circulation of motor vehicles.
The UCI shall contact the foreign insurance company which will appoint an Italian insurance company to handle the issues connected to the compensation of damages. To contact UCI it is necessary to send a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt , providing a detailed description of the accident and the details of the vehicles involved. On the contrary, Italian citizens involved in road accidents abroad, can directly contact the insurance company of the person responsible for the accident. Information required for foreign insurance and Italian agents are available at the ISVAP – Italian Authority for the Supervision of the insurance sector.
The Guarantee Fund for Victims of Road Accidents
If the person responsible for the accident cannot be identified either because has fled or is not insured, a claim for damages can be addressed to the Guarantee Fund for Victims of Road Accident (FGVS). The Fund shall pay compensation for personal injury; however, in case of serious injuries the Fund shall compensate property damage exceeding five hundred euro.
For uninsured vehicles the Fund shall pay compensation both for personal injuries and property damage.
Property damage and personal injury
Upon receipt of the claim, the insurance company shall formulate an offer for compensation which might be accepted in full or retained as an "advance" on the greater amount claimed by the injured party who could choose to continue a battle against the insurance company.
Compensation will be paid for property damage and, if occurred, for personal injury.
- The property damage can be quantified in terms of the costs required to repair the damaged vehicle and any cost related to a possible intervention of the tow truck. If, following the accident, the vehicle cannot be repaired, it will be reimbursed on the basis of its actual value at the time of the accident. To this should be added the amount of the road tax which has been paid and any cost of scrapping and registration of a new vehicle.
- The personal injury can be quantified in terms of the injuries suffered from the victim of the road accident. In case of a permanent disability rating between 1 and 9%, the age of the victim shall be also taken into consideration. In case of a permanent disability rating 10% or higher, compensation shall be paid according to the tables drawn up by the various Courts.
You could ask for the assistance of an expert lawyer also at a stage before a possible dispute or to be assisted in the completion of the insurance form, in order to avoid errors that could prejudice the success of the proceeding.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.