Have EU Motor Insurance Directives made claims easier?
More people than ever are taking their car on holiday or hiring one to explore their surroundings. Unfortunately, as the amount of foreign travel increases, so too does the number of car accidents abroad.
Making a claim for the personal injuries you have suffered as a result of a car accident abroad used to be a long and arduous process. Today, the EU Motor Insurance Directive (the EU Directive) makes it much easier to claim compensation through a personal injury solicitor based in the UK.
Who can make a claim?
Anyone who sustains injuries as a result of a road traffic accident abroad can make a claim, including:
- the driver
- a passenger
- a cyclist or motorcyclist
- a pedestrian
- a person travelling on public transport.
The EU Directive allows you to make a claim against the at-fault driver or their insurance company from your local County Court in the UK. The foreign insurer is legally obliged to engage a representative in the UK to handle the claim, so you will not be faced with any language or cultural difficulties.
The EU Directive only applies to car accidents that occur in the EU. If you are involved in a car accident in a non-member state, speak to a personal injury solicitor to determine whether you are able to make a claim.
At the scene of the accident
It is important to stay calm if you have a car accident in the EU and follow certain steps.
- Call the local police. In many EU countries it is compulsory for the police to attend collisions involving a foreign vehicle.
- Contact your insurer or their local representative -- they can advise you what to do next.
- Take photos of the vehicle and any injuries sustained. Photos can really help with your claim.
- Do not discuss the accident or admit liability.
You may be asked to sign a European Accident Statement. This is a legally binding statement in which both drivers exchange information and state their version of events. Signing a European Accident Statement ensures that claims are settled as quickly as possible. However, it is not compulsory and you should not sign the statement if you are not happy with it or do not understand the information written on the form.
Upon return to the UK
If you have not done so already, you must contact your insurer immediately upon returning to UK. Your insurer can obtain the other driver's insurance details from a central database set up by the EU Directive and start your claim.
The question of who is to blame for the accident is still decided by the law of the country where the accident took place as well as the matter of how much compensation you can claim. So, while your claim is made by a UK-based lawyer, you are entitled to the same compensation received by a French person whose accident happened in France or a Spanish person whose accident happened in Spain.
Your insurance company and solicitor can tell you what claims are allowed in each case.
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