Accident abroad

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Accident abroad

Accident abroad
Oh cheek

A crash abroad is probably at the top of the horror list for most bikers. But there are tips on how to limit the damage and annoyance at least in retrospect.

Nicolas Streblow

08/27/1996

It’s warm, finally. It’s already spring in France and I’m looking forward to my first day of vacation. I’m sure there will be a campsite soon. But instead of a sign, this white Renault appears, shoots over a hilltop and straight towards me. He overtakes, can’t get back on his lane at all, I head between the edge of the road and the car, I hear tires screeching, an eternity seems to go by in the blink of an eye. Then it crashes. And then it’s quiet, I float weightlessly, landing softly on the grass. The worst possible event of an annual vacation has occurred. It crashed. But right. I get up, scramble up the embankment. Where is my wife? She drove directly behind me … I see her motorcycle between the guardrail and the Renault standing across, she is standing next to it, nothing seems to have happened to her. Truly we are both unharmed. Hard to believe. The driver is still sitting in the car, the roof is bent, he cannot open the door. He apologizes several times in a flat voice when I help him out. I slowly regain my composure and try to analyze the situation. Where is my motorcycle At least not on the street. Beyond the guardrail, down in the ditch, I finally discover it, horribly beaten up. The scene of the accident looks like a battlefield. Witnesses, it flashes through my head, are there any witnesses? And: I have to take pictures. I can find the tank bag with the photo equipment somewhere in the grass, luckily the camera works. While I’m taking pictures, I make a kind of plus-minus balance. On the minus side it says: Mopeds broken and the vacation ended on the first day. On the plus side: we are unharmed, I can speak French fairly well, we have a cover letter and legal protection, the opponent is clearly guilty and understandable, we have photos of the scene of the accident and indeed a witness who not only saw everything, but also ready is to help us. In the meantime the police are there and are starting the sketch of the accident. We will be able to rely on them later, even if in France, as in many other countries, no log is recorded in the event of accidents without injuries. We are supposed to sign for paramedics and the police that we will not go to the hospital. After we were assured that we can still go to the doctor the next day and file a complaint, we sign. The language skills – albeit not very abundant – are now extremely helpful, and the French police officers turn out to be real angels. Again and again we are told how to proceed until we understand it. They bring us to a hotel, organize a room for us with a telephone, a table for dinner and the removal of the motorcycles, show us where the guard and the towing service are, even carry us our luggage to the hotel. Then we are alone. I still don’t know what “const amiable” means. That is what the police advise us to fill out the next day with the other party involved in the accident. Ami, I know that much, means friend. I wonder how the young Frenchman who just shot us can become our friend. The bones start to ache, we want to see that we can go home the next day. With all the luggage and equipment, all that remains is a rental car. Several calls to the two protection letter organizations of our motorcycles, ACE and Motocard, clarify the cost issue. The ACE pays our drive home and the company sends the towing costs to the opposing insurance company. The man knows his way around. The Motocard of all things, the in-house special cover letter for motorcyclists, leaves a mixed picture of the service. It is pleasant that a French representative negotiates directly with the hotel and pays the accommodation costs. It is unacceptable that we have to deal with the German Motocard representative on the phone both about the second night – which has to be paid for because we don’t leave until six o’clock in the evening – and about breakfast, although everything is actually within the budget and the contractual conditions . However, I can only read that at home because we don’t have the small print with us. The Motocard is also not the most customer-friendly when it comes to rental cars. While the ACE immediately declares that it will take over up to 700 marks, the Motocard representatives say something of 100 marks a day. That this is valid for seven days, that is, the bottom line is the same amount, we also only find out again from the contract conditions at home. What would ultimately not have helped us, a one-way rental car abroad costs around 900 marks for 24 hours. Without the ACE, we would have been pretty perplexed. The following day we meet our opponent at the police station. He has a European accident report with him in French – the “Constat amiable”, as I am now relieved to discover – and is still ready to take all the blame on himself. Even in writing. At the end of the day, the policewoman on duty hands us a slip of paper with her name and telephone number, the witness’s data and a copy of the sketch of the accident. Interestingly, in France even the person who caused such a serious overtaking accident does not have to reckon with a penalty and remains legally unmolested. When the paperwork is over, we experience the willingness of the French to help again. The hotel manager looks for the rental car stations in Besancon, 50 kilometers away, and our opponent in the accident even drives us there. That evening we sit in the car, now feeling every bone painfully. We are back home 36 hours after the start of our vacation. The fight can begin. The case described sounds like a framework for an article “Accident abroad”, but it actually happened to the author. Except for the fact that there was a crash, everything actually went well. However, one must be patient with the reimbursement of costs. Even if there is no doubt about the question of guilt, three to four months of claims settlement time are the minimum. If the question of guilt is not clearly clear and there may be additional claims for pain and suffering, years can go by. But what to do if you are injured, cannot speak the language, no one has taken photos and the police accident record may be incorrect? What if the other party in the accident suddenly denies all guilt and there is little or no evidence? Quite clearly: there are so many imponderables that it is impossible to take them all into account. A whole lot of things can still be done to limit the damage. And one thing should not go unmentioned: There were not ten responses to the reader’s appeal for “Accidents abroad” in issue 6/1996. This should be seen as a good sign. And in the letters everyone told of great helpfulness and friendly people, regardless of whether they were civilians or policemen, regardless of whether they were culpably or innocently involved in an accident. That too gives hope that the emergency does not always have to be a bad trip.

Accidents outside of Europe

Nothing works without the initiative and the help of locals. The legal system and perceptions are mostly alien to us, the law of the strongest is often decisive. Anyone who uses a rental motorcycle can contact the landlord; in principle, the same procedure applies to their own motorcycle as in Europe. However, the chances of compensation in the event of accidents caused by third parties are often low. USA, Canada: The laws of the federal states are so different that it is difficult to provide general information. Medical care is good and quick, but expensive and payable immediately. The ADAC medical hotline at 1-888-ADAC-1996 is helpful, a lawyer is almost always advisable. Australia: In the deserted outback, pubs, farmers and truckers are the most important points of contact thanks to CB radio. As in New Zealand, everything works in the rest of the country as in Europe. Pay attention to nationwide liability insurance for your own motorcycle. Africa: Here a uniform counts more than the law. It is important to keep calm and talk to people, the willingness of the locals to help is usually enormous. Those who travel in pairs or three have better cards than a single traveler. The tip that is still circulating is bad to get out of the way as soon as possible after an accident with injured locals. Anyone who actually fears lynchjusitiz should take the next route to the police to report the accident.

Help for the injured

If inpatient hospital treatment is necessary, the cover letter and travel health insurance abroad prove their worth again. The latter is available from health insurance companies and automobile clubs and costs between twelve and 30 marks for a year. (Note whether the calculation is based on the calendar or insurance year.) It bears the costs that the health insurance and the insurance cover do not pay (check beforehand). These are treatment costs in the countries with which there is no health agreement, amounts that go beyond the German cash register rates, and things like transport to the hospital if you fall down the stairs in a hotel. Here the letter of protection does not feel responsible because the whole thing happened without a vehicle. It also ensures that sick or injured people are transported home, which is sometimes extremely expensive. And that in its entire area of ‚Äč‚Äčapplication, i.e. also outside of Europe, where there is no longer a cover letter. In the event of injuries caused by accidents that are not at fault, it is important to have a medical report prepared in the country of damage, even if it is based on a German report. For example, a partially torn finger is a reason for crediting a low percentage of disability with corresponding compensation in France, but not in Germany. By the way, a second doctor should be consulted if the first aid left any doubts.

How do I get my rights?

Settling claims with a foreign insurance company under foreign law is generally a difficult thing to do without a local lawyer. And that even in clear cases in which an out-of-court settlement is possible. If the matter goes to court, usually nothing works without a lawyer. Even if your benefits are sometimes controversial – if the legal situation is unclear, they are often limited, a traffic legal protection insurance can be of great help in such cases. And not only because it pays the legal fees, but often opposing insurance companies are more willing to pay if you let them know that the risk of litigation costs is covered by legal expenses insurance. In the event of accidents abroad, such an insurance basically gives you the security of being able to assert your claims or defend yourself against unjustified claims without any financial risk. It appoints a correspondent lawyer in the country of damage and often also pays extrajudicial appraisal costs. Please note: Most legal protection insurances are only valid in Europe and the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Only the Advocard in Hamburg has recently been offering extended validity for your legal protection around the globe – for the duration of a four-week vacation trip. If you are on the road for a longer period of time, you should call before departure; in exceptional cases, longer cover notes can be negotiated. Worldwide legal protection, albeit in a limited form, is also offered by the aforementioned ARAG Top-Schutzbrief. Incidentally, an accident abroad has already occurred when two Germans rattle together 500 meters behind the border. If one of the motorcycle groups runs into the other and is injured in the process, that is enough to face proceedings abroad. So it doesn’t have to be the big tour to get caught in the ink. The editorial team is aware of a case in which a German motorcyclist was hit by a German car two kilometers from the German border in Austria and was seriously injured. The driver would have had to wait, but he passed the narrow section at such a rapid pace that he first took the motorcyclist who had lost track of the necessary braking from the machine and then came to rest on the roof himself with his car in the field. Due to a chain of unfortunate circumstances, the legal dispute with the other party in the accident continues. In spite of a clear accident record by the police, which unfortunately reversed the number of the license plate number of the accident car, and an unreliable witness from the other side, a case was opened against the motorcyclist. He was accused of having skidded the off-road vehicle driver as a result of him. The biker was initially unable to defend himself because he was seriously injured when he was taken to the hospital in Innsbruck and still cannot remember the accident to this day. A German lawyer was necessary because the claims were directed against a German insurance company. An Austrian lawyer was also needed to defend himself against the traffic court proceedings. If the first verdict was still a fine of almost 10,000 marks, the proceedings in the second instance were discontinued. Without legal protection insurance, the biker would have run out of air here. But first the question of guilt had to be clarified, then the liability quota and only then the regulation, for which one would have to sue the insurance company in extreme cases. Being right and getting it can sometimes be expensive.

Dealing with insurance

In many countries those involved in the accident send their documents to their respective insurance companies, and the companies then settle the matter among themselves, depending on the determined guilt share of their clients. This variant is often told to you abroad, with the reassuring addition that you would have nothing to do with it. However, the procedure from Germany is completely different. If you have claims to a foreign insurance company, you need a lawyer in the country in which the insurance company is based, and he will then assert the claims. Your own German insurance company only takes note of the reported accident, but does not act on its own initiative, but only reacts when claims are made against it from abroad. And that is only the case if you yourself are to blame or to blame. By the way – even the green card is only of use to the other party involved in the accident, who uses it to get the other party’s data in hand. In some countries, such as the UK, the insurance does not have to pay until the policyholder has reported the damage. So it is important to find out the insurance of the opponent, even if it is with the help of the police, and to contact them yourself. Expert reports that are used to settle claims should be checked as a matter of principle or have them checked by a specialist workshop. Errors not only delay regulation, they can also cost money. In the case of »personal injury«, a lawyer should always be called in who is familiar with the customs of the respective country so as not to miss any opportunities.

Be careful with self-help!

Any self-help that is possible on site is always better than waiting for help from others. However, one thing should be noted: In the event of an accident with third-party negligence, the opposing insurance company should always be given the opportunity to inspect the damaged motorcycle – even if it is being repaired in Germany. There is usually a right to the latter and also to crediting German prices. It is advisable to keep an international workshop directory of your brand. Both for the procurement of spare parts and for the first aid on the accident machine, which can thus be put in the right hands. If the motorcycle is only slightly damaged, it can be made ready to drive again there.

make photos!

Anyone who is still able to do so at the scene of the accident (in the event of personal injury, ask fellow travelers) should in any case take as many pictures as possible, regardless of who is believed to be the culprit on site. The photos can be helpful not only for clarifying the question of guilt, but also for claims settlement if they underline the origin of the damage. The license plates of the vehicles involved should be legible on at least one of the images. Incorrectly noted vehicle numbers can lead to the most ludicrous confusion.

When do the police help

Whenever possible, in motorcycle accidents, especially those involving third parties, always call or have the police called, even if no one appears to have been injured. Insurance companies still attach the greatest importance to preserving evidence. It is imperative to locate accident witnesses and ensure that their testimony or at least their address is recorded. It can’t hurt if witnesses can be seen in the accident photos. Many a case of doubt has already been decided by testimony. In addition, everyone should have an international accident report with them (available from insurance companies and automobile clubs) so as not to have to fill out a foreign language form. Your own information may also be given in German, but what good does it do if the accident sheet is in the national language and you don’t know where to state what. After all, it cannot be assumed that the other party involved in the accident will willingly acknowledge his guilt and even help the victim to fill out the form. Important: Only sign something on site if you have understood it. Otherwise only refuse and insist on an interpreter! If necessary, call the emergency call center for the letter of protection from the police so that they can get you one.

Reading material

If you have had an accident abroad, the best thing to do is to get the book “Accident abroad – Claims Regulation” by Hermann Neidhart from ADAC-Verlag. Here you can really make yourself smart so that in an emergency you can take advantage of every opportunity from the start – even if you have a lawyer who can enforce your own claims abroad. It is easier to formulate it with background knowledge. Special motorcycle dictionaries are generally helpful.

Checklist

What to do after the accident: – Secure the accident site or have it secured – If others are involved in the accident, always ensure that the police arrive – Take photos with the license number of the other party involved in the accident and the location of the vehicles – The data of the other party in the accident, such as note the insurance number and company, address, name and telephone number, have the green insurance card shown, better take it with you and send it back later – look for witnesses who record their complete data – do not sign anything you do not understand. When negotiating with the police and other parties involved in the accident, call in an interpreter if at all possible – In the event of injuries: If in doubt, always have an examination, even if only to have something in hand with the insurance company later – Call the emergency letter center, telephone: … …………………………., letter of protection number: ………….. …………… In the event of third-party negligence and a motorcycle that cannot be repaired on site: Do not have the machine picked up for home transport before the opposing insurance company has seen it sign.

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