Road traffic incidents abroad: what to be aware of

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One of the reasons August was chosen as National Road Victim Awareness month is because during this month our roads tend to be busier due to holidaymakers on the move and with children off school, there are more pedestrians.

It is important to remind people of road safety, particularly when away on holidays. People are often more relaxed when they are removed from their usual surroundings and a momentary lapse in concentration can result in catastrophic consequences. Common sense can also be misplaced when away from routine.

Adapt to the rules of the country you are visiting

When travelling abroad you should remember the following:

  • Don’t drink and drive. Limits vary from country to country and it is often easy to get caught out where the limit is lower than that you are used to in the UK. Some alcohol may be stronger than you expect and in hot weather your body may process alcohol differently potentially increasing your risk of dehydration.
  • Ensure you know what the requirements are if your vehicle breaks down when abroad. For example, in France you are required to carry a reflective jacket for each occupant which can be accessed without exiting the vehicle. You must also carry a warning triangle. In Spain, you are required to carry two warning triangles which must be placed in front and behind the vehicle. You must also carry a spare wheel.
  • Don’t drive if you are tired and remember to take regular breaks in a safe place.

As a pedestrian, you also need to be mindful and remember:

  • When crossing the road as a pedestrian, traffic may approach from the other direction depending on which country you are visiting. It is important to check the road in all directions before you cross and whilst in most countries vehicles are expected to allow pedestrians to cross at pedestrian crossings, this may not always be the case.
  • Be particularly careful if you are walking on the road at night and ensure you can be seen by traffic.


What happens if you have an incident?

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic incident it is important to take the following steps:

  • Get details of the other drivers / vehicles involved including their vehicle registration numbers and insurance policy details.
  • Take a mobile number and / or email address and check that they are correct!
  • If possible, take photographs of the accident location, including damage to vehicles.
  • Report the incident to the relevant authorities and obtain a copy of any report / reference number.
  • Take details of any independent witnesses in case their assistance is needed at a later date should liability be disputed.

If you are involved in an RTA abroad which results in a fatality, there are a number of important points you need to be aware of.

The local police will carry out their own investigations and you may be required to provide a statement. If you have been injured in the incident and are hospitalised, the police may visit you in hospital so you can provide a statement. Before you sign any statement, you should ensure that you can understand what is written and that the content is factually correct.

It can take the police many months to complete their investigations and it is unlikely that any papers will be released relating to any criminal prosecution until those proceedings have concluded.

Often times, you may be given an option to join a civil claim for damages to a criminal claim. Before taking any steps in this regard you should seek legal advice. If you have the benefit of legal expenses insurance, it is advisable to contact your insurer as soon as possible. Provided you have adequate cover in place your insurer should be able to put you in contact with lawyers who are experts in this area of law and will be able to offer you guidance as to options available to you.

In many countries you may be given an option to combine a civil claim for compensation with the associated criminal prosecution. It is important that you do not make any decision about this before seeking independent legal advice from a specialist international personal injury lawyer with experience of representing clients in similar situations. If you have the benefit of legal expenses insurance under your travel policy your insurer will should be able to put you in contact with a legal specialist. If you do not have insurance, most expert international personal injury lawyers should be willing to have a free initial discussion with you to discuss options available to you.

This is a complex area of law which varies from country to country. It can be a stressful time and it is important you have an expert on your side who can give you the right advice and liaise on your behalf with the relevant parties in the country where the accident took place.

Be careful not to sign any documents you are not sure about or agree to anything that could potentially negatively impact your ability to make a compensation claim in the future.

How we can help

At Enable Law we have a specialist international personal injury team with decades of experience supporting road victims and their loved ones. Our colleagues have an understanding of the driving rules that apply in most countries and have links with local expert lawyers that can assist them with your claim. Members of the team also speak several different languages making liaising with local police forces and other solicitors significantly easier.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a road traffic accident abroad, we will be able to help you. To have a free, no obligation discussion with a member of our team call us on 0800 044 8488 (free from UK mobiles) or alternatively fill in our contact form below so we can give you a call back at a time convenient to you

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