Road Traffic Accidents in Europe by Alan Stobart
As you would expect I have clients who have been involved in road traffic accidents. If you have taken any notice of the media of late (a dangerous hobby in my humble opinion) you will have heard that there is no such thing as a whiplash neck injury. Well, take it from me – there is, as a few of you seasoned travellers will know from personal experience. Now, if someone crashes into you in the UK it is a relatively straightforward matter, with a little guidance, to make a claim for your pain and suffering and any financial losses. But of course many people happen to be abroad when a collision occurs. That can complicate matters. There are things you may need to know. But first, a word of explanation about whiplash injuries generally.
Whiplash injuries usually involve the neck – the name reflects the way your head moves when someone drives into the back of your vehicle (whether you are moving or stationary). Back injury is also a possibility, and the collision is not always a rear end shunt – idiot drivers, as you have probably noticed, can approach you from any direction. The pain does not usually come on straightaway, but appears typically after a few hours or the next day. People who seek medical attention at that stage stand more chance of showing that there is a real connection between the accident and the on-going pain they are suffering, because the complaint will then be documented.
Here are some snippets of information you will hopefully never need when travelling abroad;
In Germany and Austria the courts are slow to find any link between the accident and the injury where the speed of the offending vehicle (or the difference in speeds between the two vehicles) is less than 10km/h.
Try not to crash in Norway. They do not recognise compensation for pain and suffering. You could receive compensation for financial losses and, if you are assessed at least 14% permanently disabled, compensation for loss of amenity.
The limitation period for bringing a claim to court is three years in England and Wales, and is at least that in most other countries (two years in Italy and Switzerland and one year in Spain), but in Greece you also need to make a “declaration of accident” to your insurer within three days.
In France you are going to have difficulties unless you can produce written documentation to show you consulted a doctor within 3 days of the accident. You’ll have to explain yourself in this situation in Switzerland too. The Irish Republic courts like to see a report from the treating doctor linking the injury to the accident, but their awards are comparatively high, so this is the place to have a prang.
So, if you have plans to drive abroad in the future you might like to follow one of these links for more detailed information.
Czech Republic https://www.tispol.org/guides/czechrepublic.pdf
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