Traffic accidents cause a lot of stress and are usually accompanied by a number of inconveniences, for both participants and their families. The most common causes of traffic accidents are: alcohol misuse, speeding, disobeying traffic signals, and in Serbia road damage as well.
According to the Road Traffic Safety Agency of the Republic of Serbia, there have been 178.203 traffic accidents in Serbia from 2015 to 2019, out of which 68.736 were accompanied by injuries and 106.858 by material damage 1 (this number must be significantly larger as a lot of traffic accidents are registered only with the insurance companies). Increasing number of traffic accidents indicate that citizens should be informed on claiming compensation procedures in Serbia.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IN CASE OF A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT?
First of all, remain calm and take care of your own and the safety of other participants. The Law on Traffic Safety defines a special procedures depending on the consequences of the accident.
It is essential to act according to the procedure and not to leave the spot, because the driver who leaves an injured person can be held responsible according to the law. If the person responsible for the accident needs medical treatment or has to transport another injured person, it can leave the site but has to return to the location as soon as possible. There are numerous criminal acts and misdemeanors that may steam from traffic accidents, which will be discussed in one of our next blogs.
Severe injury, death or substantial material damage
Driver or other participant in traffic accident, in case of severe injury, death or substantial material damage is obliged to do the following:
- stop the vehicle, turn off the engine, turn on all the blinkers, and set warning triangle on the safe distance,
- help injured persons, give first aid or medical assistance according to their knowledge,
- call the police and/or ambulance, as well as stay on the site until the police or ambulance arrives and the investigation is finished
- secure the evidence on the site and warn all the persons to stay off the road as not to get hurt or destroy evidence
- take all necessary precautions to warn people of the accident
- take all safety precautions to prevent people from new injuries or car accidents
Minor material damage
On the other hand, when the damage is minor, driver or the other participant in the accident ought to fill in the European Accident Report Form. However, every participant has the right to ask the police make the official police report on the accident, in which case European Accident Report Form does not have to be filled in, when all the participants shall remain on the site until the investigation is done. Obligations of the driver and other participants are identical to those when there is substantial material damage.
CLAIMING COMPENSATION WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES
A damage caused in a traffic accident can be material and non-material. Material damage is the one caused on the vehicle, while people can suffer non-material damage.
As far as the material damage is concerned, it should firstly be estimated so that it can be compensated by the insurance company, all in accordance with the European Accident Report Form and official police report.
The amount of damages depends on the circumstances of each specific case.
Which insurance company should I refer to?
When it comes to the non-material damage such as injuries or fear, it is important to clarify who has the right to claim damages with the insurance company. Driver of the vehicle who is injured in a car accident may exercise this right before insurance company which provides the insurance to the participant guilty for the accident. Passengers or third parties (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.) have the right to choose between the insurance companies providing insurance to all the cars participating in traffic accident, regardless of who is guilty for the accident.
Go to the hospital
It is essential to get a medical examination and estimation of the injuries and obtain medical documentation. It should be done right away in order to avoid any doubts on whether injury was caused in the accident or otherwise.
Who is not entitled to claim damages?
Persons who are not entitled to claim damages are:
- The owner of the vehicle, which vehicle caused him/her damage, only for the damage on his stuff.
- The driver of the vehicle, which vehicle caused him/her damage,
- Person who entered the vehicle, which vehicle caused him/her damage, and that person
knew the vehicle has been stolen or illegally taken.
- Person that suffered damage in specific situations (official moto races or carting races,
military operations, etc.)
On the other hand, if you are the person who is guilty for the accident, the insurance company may ask you to refund the compensation paid for damage. You are considered guilty in regards to the alcohol or drug abuse, when there was a vehicle malfunction, when you have been driving without license or under the driving ban, etc.
Car accident abroad or caused by a foreign vehicle
In case you have an accident while abroad, it is necessary to determine in which country this has taken place, as well whether this country has signed an agreement which provides to realize compensation in Serbia.
In the event car with foreign license plate caused you damage in Serbia, you should claim damages from the domestic insurance company authorized and obliged to cover such damage.
The insurance company has a deadline of 14 days to send an offer and compensate the one who claim damages, while in case of minor damages this deadline is 8 days. Deadline of 14 days may be extended up to 45 days for material or 90 days for non-material damage, with additional deadline extension of 14 days for indemnification.
If the insurance company does not send an offer within 90 days (or 8 days for the minor damage) or does not inform claimant that it has no right under the insurance policy, one should claim damages before the court. Injured person or owner of the vehicle may initiate court proceeding also in the event it is compensated only partially.
Although traffic accident is unpleasant by itself, it can be accompanied by difficulties related to other participants, as well as in the process of obtaining the full compensation before the insurance companies and the court. Therefore, you are recommended to refer to experts, primarily attorney at law, in order to exercise your rights properly.
o-stanju-bezbednosti-saobracaja-u-republici-srbiji-u-2019.-godini.pdf, page 11, Road Traffic Safety Agency of the Republic of Serbia.