We all know that traffic accidents happen every day, but what happens if you’re involved in one yourself? You need to pay attention to a particularly wide range of factors at the same time, especially on roads that you’ve seldom or never driven on before. This is a particularly common situation on holiday. We explain what you should do after an accident.
What first steps can I personally take after a traffic accident?
The first things to do after an accident, wherever you are, are: stop, put on your reflective vest when leaving the car and secure the accident site so you can be clearly seen by other road-users who didn’t see the accident itself happen.
What emergency numbers are there in Europe?
If something serious has happened, you might need to provide first aid and call the emergency services. If there are injured people or serious damage to property, you also need to inform the police.
If you’re in shock and don’t know the number of the local emergency services, you can use the universal EU-wide emergency number 112 and will be connected with the local control centre.
Emergency numbers in Hungary
- Police: 107
- Fire brigade: 105
- Ambulance: 112
Emergency numbers in Slovakia
- Police: 158
- Fire brigade: 150
- Ambulance: 112
Emergency numbers in Bulgaria
- Police: 166
- Fire brigade: 160
- Ambulance: 150
Emergency numbers in the Czech Republic
- Police: 158
- Fire brigade: 150
- Ambulance: 155
Emergency numbers in Slovenia
- Police: 113
- Fire brigade: 112
- Ambulance: 112
European Accident Statement in the event of traffic accident
enable the emergency services to follow up effectively on an accident, it’s also advisable to complete an Accident Statement. If you’re abroad, you’re best off with a European Accident Statement because of its cross-border validity
When doing so, you should include the following details:
- Names of the people involved in the accident
- Addresses of the people involved in the accident
- Registration number
- Insurance details
If witnesses are present, it’s also a good idea to note down their contact details so they can make a statement later. As a general rule, you should bring your green insurance card with you to speed up the process of dealing with these kinds of problems. In order to secure further evidence, you should make a sketch of the accident and photograph any major damage.
If you’re travelling in a hire car, you should first inform the car hire company. Afterwards you need to discuss the next steps with them. If this doesn’t happen, additional costs may accrue that won’t be covered without prior agreement. Most car rental providers stipulate in their hire contracts that you must always phone the police immediately in the event of an accident.
If your own car is too heavily damaged to continue driving, you may be able to order a hire car. But please note that you need a credit card to rent a car. This is required by most providers and you should consider it in advance. So it would be advisable to take a credit card with you on your next holiday. Depending on where you’re insured, the accident usually needs to be reported to the insurer within a week. Also ensure that whatever happens, you don’t make or sign any false statements. In addition, it’s important not to sign any documents that you don’t fully understand. If you do so, you run the risk of facing an unavoidable and unwanted legal dispute.
As a general rule, an accident victim who is resident in another EU member state can deal with the damages claim via a claims representative in their country of residence.
Important notes in the event of traffic accidents
- Wear a reflective vest
- Provide aid and call the emergency services
- Carry your insurance card with you and inform your insurer
- Make a report and sketch of the accident
- Note down details of the witnesses (if applicable)
- If you’re driving a rented vehicle, inform the car hire company
- Carry your credit card with you
- Don’t make any false statements
- Don’t sign any documents you don’t understand
How can I avoid being in an accident abroad?
- Don’t use alcohol or a mobile phone at the wheel
- Don’t be distracted by your passengers
- Don’t drive if you’re tired or under severe stress
- Keep to the speed limit
- Test the safety of your vehicle before driving (tyre pressure, oil, cooling system, lights, battery)
Background information for traffic accidents in Hungary
As of 2014 there were 4.5 million registered vehicles on Hungarian roads, of which 3.1 million were cars. In 2014 there were around 15,850 accidents involving personal injuries in Hungary. Sadly, these included 626 deaths. In addition, 5,330 people were injured. This incredibly high accident rate should be another reason for you to stay alert on the road and pay attention to other road-users.
Damages claims in the event of liability lapse five years after the damage event. For absolute liability, the time limit is even lower: three years. As a rule, there’s no remuneration of out-of-court and procedural legal fees in Hungary, which you should bear in mind during negotiations. It’s also important to have an expert opinion drafted in agreement with your insurer. On top of that, there’s no flat-rate compensation for loss of use.
The accident costs for a hire car are only refunded if it’s required for professional use or some other important need.
In the event of minor injuries, out-of-court agreements are often made. In this case you have an entitlement to compensation of up to 500 euros. Any relatives who were also travelling in your car can also claim compensation. Any arising repair costs can be reimbursed on presentation of a receipted invoice. The medical and care costs are generally also refunded unless they have already been covered by your health insurance. Please note that compensation is relatively low in Hungary.
Background information for traffic accidents in Slovakia
There were 2.7 million registered vehicles in Slovakia in 2014, of which around 1.9 million were cars. In total there were around 13,300 traffic accidents, in which 554 people died. In addition, 6,600 people were seriously injured. Considering the number of registered vehicles, these figures are high.
Damages claims generally expire two years after the damage event here. But there are exceptions in Slovakia for informing the police. The rule here is that if the damages incurred are estimated at more than 4,000 euros, the police can be called free of charge. Otherwise, police calls in the event of minor damages to property cost 170 euros. Even so, it’s easier to deal with the damages claim via the police. If an expert opinion has to be commissioned, there is no reimbursement of VAT in the settlement. Moreover, depreciation, hire car costs and loss of use are highly limited.
Here too, the assessed compensation generally ends up lower than in other EU countries. The specific assessment of the compensation is carried out on the basis of a range of factors in order to estimate the severity of your level of injury. For damages to property, the minimum insurance amount is 1 million euros per damage event and for personal injury the sum is 5 million euros.
Background information for traffic accidents in Bulgaria
There’s a disproportionate concentration of traffic accidents in Bulgaria. In 2014, 655 people died here. This is due to road conditions and to the cars, which are often in a very poor state. In the event of an accident, all foreign road users are required to stay at the accident site until the traffic police have arrived. Legally, it’s always essential to inform the police here. Afterwards, you should be given a confirmation of accident so that you can later present all important documents retroactively. A police protocol is also drafted.
If the accident happens outside built-up areas, you must wear a reflective vest on leaving the vehicle. If you are caught failing to comply, you will be fined around 25 euros.
Background information for traffic accidents in the Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic too, there are many car accidents every year. In 2014, sadly, 631 people lost their lives on Czech roads. 2,723 people were seriously injured. Traffic accidents are particularly common during the holiday season and on long weekends. So you should be very careful when driving to the Czech Republic in these periods.
But if you do have an accident and someone is injured, you should immediate call the emergency services. If there are vehicle damages of around 4,000 euros, you should also inform the local police and exchange insurance details with the other party to the accident. If the other party doesn’t want to give their details, you can also approach third parties to solve the problem. In some cases, you might need to subsequently inform your lawyer. For this reason you should also take photos at the accident site, to help solve any later disputes and to claim repair costs.
Hire car costs are only reimbursed if the hire was essential. According to Czech law, this could be the case if, for example, you needed the vehicle for work-related reasons.
Background information for traffic accidents in Slovenia
In 2014 over 1.4 million vehicles were licensed to use Slovenian roads, of which 1.07 million were cars. Within a total of more than 18,000 traffic accidents in 2014, there were 8,220 injuries and, sadly, 108 deaths.
As a rule, compensation claims lapse here four years after the occurrence of the damage event. As in Slovakia, the assessed compensation generally ends up lower here than in other EU countries. The specific assessment of the compensation is carried out on the basis of a range of factors in order to estimate the severity of your level of injury. For damages to property, the minimum insurance amount is 1 million euros per damage event and for personal injury the sum is 5 million euros.