Make sure you know the procedure if you are involvedin a road accident as it can save you time and moneywhen making a claim.
Most people visiting or moving to Italy have something to say about the apparently crazy Italian driving habits. However Italy has been tightening up on its highway controls in recent years and now has lower accident rates than a decade ago. But is still relatively high compared with other European countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, although it has a better record than the USA.
Any accident, however minor, is an emotional experience that leaves you feeling helpless, so it is important to be familiar with the procedure to follow. Therefore whether you are a driver, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian, it is useful to know your rights.
The most important thing to do first is to check the condition of the people involved in the accident, yourself included. In the case of no apparent injuries or where only mild injury has been suffered, remove those involved from the scene to a secure area to protect them from further risks. In the case of severe injury do not move the injured but call for an ambulance by dialling 118, and if you have the expertise apply first aid while waiting for professional medical care. Then inform the police by calling 112 or 113. Do not move the vehicles in order to allow the police to evaluate and report on the situation.
According to the highway code (codice stradale articolo 162), all vehicles must be equipped with reflective red triangles and a reflective vest. These items can be purchased at most hardware stores. It is obligatory to warn other road users approaching the scene of the accident by placing a reflective red triangle facing the direction of oncoming traffic 50m from the danger, or in the case of an intersection as far back as is possible. Even if you are wearing the reflective vest, do not stay on the road more than is necessary.
Try to take down the details and contact numbers of any witnesses as they may not wait until the police arrive to testify what happened.
In the event that there are no apparent injuries it is not obligatory to call the police and one is allowed to move the vehicles to allow traffic flow. One is required to fill in the accident report form provided by the respective insurance companies or car-hire company (CID, also called CAI Constatazione Amichevole di Incidente). Always carry this is the vehicle. If both parties involved in the incident are in agreement as to what occurred and jointly sign the form it obliges the insurer to act within 30 days. If the parties are not in agreement it is still important to fill in the form and send it off to your insurance company. A correctly filled-in form is always a sign of honesty.
When filling in these forms ensure that the following information is clearly recorded: name of the insurance company and policy number of the parties involved, place, date and time of the incident, personal details of parties such as name, address and contact details, number plates of the vehicles clearly indicating which was the offending vehicle, clear description of what happened. If in agreement both parties then sign each other’s form.
Even though it is not obligatory to call the police when there are no injuries, it is advisable to do so as this will ensure that the details of the incident are recorded in an official police report, which is useful if you are the victim and the offending driver refuses to sign your insurance form or tries to pass the blame for the incident onto you. If you were responsible for the accident, a police report insures that the offended driver does not exaggerate any personal damages suffered.
Injuries are not always immediately evident, especially if one is in shock. Even if you have no visible lesions you may have suffered muscular damage or cracked or damaged teeth which will later lead to medical and dental expenses and possibly loss of days at work or a planned and paid-for holiday. Documented police proof will make it easier to claim later on.
It is just as important for cyclists and pedestrians involved in incidents to call the police and file an official report. Even if your injuries seem minor it is advisable to go to casualty and have a medical report filled out, because you have the right to claim for damages up to two years after the incident.
If you have been the victim of a road accident in Italy, you may claim not only for technical damage to your car but also the cost of alternative transport while the vehicle is being repaired, refund of insurance premiums and license fees (bollo) while the vehicle is being repaired, and the damage to items in the vehicle such as your personal computer, telephone and other personal belongings.
Drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians have the right to claim for biological damages, moral damages, aesthetic damages and social damages (e.g. losses suffered due to your inability to complete your holiday or go to work) and parental damages (e.g. not being able to physically care for your family). Medical or dental expenses incurred in your home country due to the accident, which may cost more than medical care in Italy, are claimed at their actual value and it is important to get detailed medical statements and bills from the practitioner who has treated you to testify the treatment was related to the accident.
If the offending party is insured in Italy or any other European Union country or Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, one can lodge a direct claim through the offending party’s insurance company; however these claims normally result in only obtaining compensation for damages to vehicles and immediate medical expenses.
In the event that the offending party is insured in a non-European country the claims are directed to the office for international road incidents in the country in which the incident occurred. In the event of an uninsured driver your insurance company has to claim on your behalf from the European Road Accident Fund. These are often long drawn-out processes that bear little fruit.
In all instances it is advisable to seek the advice of a bilingual Italian law firm to take up the claim on your behalf and ensure you are rightfully compensated for all losses and damages.
Future topics will cover inheritance, insurance and accidents. We also welcome any suggestions that readers may have. Please send these either to editorial@ wantedinrome.com or contact the law firm www.annino-lawfirm.com directly.
Previous articles in this series
3 April. Buying property in Italy
8 May. Italian criminal trials
5 June. Leasing an apartment
3 July. The Condominium Handbook
7 August. Healthcare: Service or Sufferance
8 September. Medical malpractice laws in Italy