Handling the aftermath of a car accident

54 posts in this topic

Posted

After less than a week in Germany, I already received a token of German hospitality in the form of a car accident. This morning my wife got rammed by a van that ran over a stop sign. The driver claimed she did not saw the sign and that she was in a hurry to get her son to a football match. Fortunately, no one was injured (there were 3 children in the cars), but our car got the front side well damaged.

The police came and, thanks God, there were witnesses that helped explain what happened (the other driver did not even say she was sorry, unbelievable). So the police filed a report and gave us a copy of it. The report only says the names, addresses, phone numbers and car details of both drivers. Plus contact info for the witnesses. I asked the police officer about the other driver's insurance company details and also about the fact that in the report it did not state any details of what happened. He said that information is confidential and that he would write another report in the police station explaining all those details.

According to the police, I did not have to worry, he said to take the car to a garage shop and hand them the copy of the report he gave me. He said in the copy he gave me comes a report number that can be linked to the other report he would write in the police station. That way, the repair shop will be able to know the other driver's insurance company and contact them to organize the repair and bill them directly.

Being that this is our first accident ever, I am skeptic of this approach, but I do not know if it is the standard way to do it in Germany. Can someone who has had an accident in Germany in the past advise me if this is normal procedure? Should I do something else to ensure my car is repaired asap and that the other person's insurance takes care of the payment? How long does it normally take for these situations to sort out, meaning, are German insurers fast to approve repairs, etc.?

This is such a nuissance, specially if the trains go on strike!

Thanks for your feedback.

Daniel

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Posted

Simply call YOUR insurance company and let them take care of it. They'll take your details, details of the other driver and the police report and organise the repair. They may even arrange to pick up your car to take for repair and provide a loan vehicle while it is away. If the accident is as clear cut as you suggest then they'll simply reclaim the costs from the other insurance company and you won't be penalised by them for the claim.

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Posted

YL6' s advice is sound however i would get a solicitor on the job.There is other stuff you could claim for as well.Extra travelling costs if you do not get a courtesy car.Depreciation value on your own car, providing it was accident free beforehand

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Posted

I agree it is worth getting a solicitor, the cost of which you can claim from the insurer of the person who caused the accident. They will advise of the other things you can claim, such as the cost of a rental vehicle while yours is being repaired, and deal with any insurance complications which may arise.

The driver didn't say sorry - don't be too surprised, apologies are rare in Germany.

The process of getting the repair done is usually quite fast. The garage will go ahead with the work as soon as the insurers have agreed it, depending on the value of the claim they may send an independent Gutachter to assess the damage first or just approve it based on the report from the garage.

If anyone was hurt in the accident, even slightly, get a note from the doctor and take it with you when you see a solicitor.

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Posted

the other driver did not even say she was sorry, unbelievable

Not unbelievable - this could/would be taken as an admission of guilt and that is NOT allowed by their (or your) insurance company - even if it appears to be clear-cut.

Check your own insurance for the case that in future you become involved in another accident of some sort.

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Posted

If you employ a lawyer to simply enforce your rights, then the costs are not recoverable from the other insurance company, unless, of course you have Fahrerrechtsschutzversicherung, (legal insurance covering driving issues) which might be part of your car insurance or a separate domestic policy (and is highly recommended). If the case is straightforward then a lawyer won't be needed. You can claim a courtesy car equivalent to one rental group below the level of your own car, and depreciation of value as indicated by the insurance company in agreement with the repairer. The courtesy car should only be used while yours is not available, and then only if your travel is substantial enough to justify it. If you could cover the cost of your travel needs while your car is out of action, by using taxis, and these costs would be less than rental, then you should claim these expenses instead.

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Posted

If the accident is clearly the other persons fault then he can claim the lawyers costs back off the insurnace.Arguement being if that the said party had not caused the accident then the complaintive would not need a lawyer

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Posted

The other insurance company won't pay the costs of a lawyer to enforce his existing rights. They will pay if these rights are in dispute (and he subsequently wins - not if he loses!) For example, if the lawyer writes to say he will be claiming a courtesy car (which is his right) then no lawyer costs are paid. If the car is in for repair for longer than was expected (for example waiting for parts) and the courtesy car is rented for a longer period which the other insurance dispute, then the costs of a lawyer would be paid if he was able to justify the extended rental period (but not if it is subsequently not justified!). Again, a separate Rechtsschutzversicherung would probably cover the costs in both cases.

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Posted

Post #6

If you employ a lawyer to simply enforce your rights, then the costs are not recoverable from the other insurance company,

They were last time I had an accident which wasn't my fault (and the police report made this clear). That was in 1997 and the situation was the same for my husband in a similar situation in 2002.

Has the law changed ? Or were we able to do this because our cars had been written off rather than a bit of damage ?

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Posted

Nothing to do with fault, more enforcement of rights. Of course, an accident right-off may make the claim more complex (e.g. in deciding original value of the vehicle or any residual value)

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Posted

My understanding at the time was that if I wasn't at fault, all costs, including legal costs, could be recovered from the other party and these were settled by their insurers.

It wasn't particularly complicated as the Gutachter decided the value of the vehicle and there was no need to discuss who was responsible for the accident.

My insurers said that if the accident wasn't my fault, and the police had confirmed that, they didn't need or want the details. The police gave me no advice beyond providing a copy of their report. It was the vehicle recovery crew who advised me to see a solicitor as I wouldn't be the one paying the bill. I don't think it was a one off situation as my husband followed the same advice successfully a few years later.

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Posted

The vital thing is to get the other person's insurance to agree that you were not responsible (even partially) for the accident.

Your insurance will be quite happy to agree its not your fault - means they don't have to pay anything out!

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Posted

If the police attended there may be something about whose fault it was in their report.

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Posted

If the accident is clearly the other persons fault then he can claim the lawyers costs back off the insurnace.Arguement being if that the said party had not caused the accident then the complaintive would not need a lawyer

When employing a lawyer you have a so-called Schadensminderungspflicht, i.e. the obligation to keep the damages as low as possible. Contacting your insurance is the fastest way of ensuring a quick processing of the available information. Remember, they have paid professionals for this kind of thing. Your insurance will contact the opponent's insurance based on the information in the police report and state your claims*.

If your opponent starts behaving awkwardly your insurance may recommend your taking a lawyer and will provide you with a list of their cooperating lawyers in your neighborhood.

There is a reason for your premiums, make them work for you.

*I was drilled 23 years ago that you always exchange your insurance information at the scene of the accident. I have also in the course of my professional duties used a number for the Zentralruf der Autoversicherer to obtain the opponent's information. You are entitled to it if you can justify your interest.

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Posted

Thank you to everyone who has replied!

I spoke to my Spanish insurance and in their own words "it could take many weeks" before the 2 insurance companies agree who will pay what. My insurance is telling me to repair the car and pay a deductible (I have full insurance in my car), and then sue the other party for all damages. They will back me up.

But, it seems there is still honest responsible people in this world, at least in Germany, as the owner of the car that crashed onto us called me today to say he has spoken to his insurance and that everything is sorted out for me to repair my car at their expense. Tomorrow I am going ot the repair shop, let's cross the fingers that everything will work out smoothly.

Cheers,

Daniel

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Posted

...my Spanish insurance...

this little subtlety was omitted in your earlier post, and negates a lot of the follow-on responses. Your Spanish insurance company will almost certainly have a German representative (insurance) company who will handle the claim for them. You should probably find out who this is and check if they are handling your claim. Their name and contact details should be listed on your "green card" if you have it.

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Posted

The most important thing is to have the police come. Don't just exchange insurance information even if the other person tells you that it was their fault and their insurance will pay. Once it gets in the hands of the insurance companies, all bets are off and you should prepare yourself for a good screwing.

Example: My wife and I were parked in a parking spot diagonal on the right of a main road. There is a traffic light about 30 meters past our parking spot. Traffic was stopped for a red light so a car stopped far enough back to let us out of the spot and onto the main road. The car in front of him (also stopped for the red light) for some unknown reason decided to back up and ram us on the driver's side of our old car. I insisted on calling the police but my wife, being the wonderful German that she is, decided to just let the insurance companies handle it. We got the names and phone numbers of the witnesses and exchanged insurance information. We also took pictures of the accident with the camera we keep in the glove box. 3 months later, after the car was repaired and the insurnace information given to the dealer that did the repair, WE got a bill from the dealer stating that the insurance company refused to pay. So we paid and took the case to our lawyer (with pictures and witness information). 6 months after the accident, they finally got around to calling the witnesses, who by know didn't remember much or had moved or changed phone numbers. The end result 9 months after the accident was that the other insurnace company paid 75% of the damage, but only by threat of going to court. They initially only wanted to pay 50% of the 4,000 Euro repair bill. Lesson learned, I guess. My wife will call the police if there is ever another accident.

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Posted

this little subtlety was omitted in your earlier post, and negates a lot of the follow-on responses.

You just have to love this "Salami-Tactic"...

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Posted

The most important thing is to have the police come. Don't just exchange insurance information even if the other person tells you that it was their fault and their insurance will pay. Once it gets in the hands of the insurance companies, all bets are off and you should prepare yourself for a good screwing.

Example: My wife and I were parked in a parking spot diagonal on the right of a main road. There is a traffic light about 30 meters past our parking spot. Traffic was stopped for a red light so a car stopped far enough back to let us out of the spot and onto the main road. The car in front of him (also stopped for the red light) for some unknown reason decided to back up and ram us on the driver's side of our old car. I insisted on calling the police but my wife, being the wonderful German that she is, decided to just let the insurance companies handle it. We got the names and phone numbers of the witnesses and exchanged insurance information. We also took pictures of the accident with the camera we keep in the glove box. 3 months later, after the car was repaired and the insurnace information given to the dealer that did the repair, WE got a bill from the dealer stating that the insurance company refused to pay. So we paid and took the case to our lawyer (with pictures and witness information). 6 months after the accident, they finally got around to calling the witnesses, who by know didn't remember much or had moved or changed phone numbers. The end result 9 months after the accident was that the other insurnace company paid 75% of the damage, but only by threat of going to court. They initially only wanted to pay 50% of the 4,000 Euro repair bill. Lesson learned, I guess. My wife will call the police if there is ever another accident.

Did you cal 110? or is there a non emergency number ?

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Posted

I have had two people rough up my car over here and both times got it fixed with absolutely no bother whatsoever.

Case 1. On my way to lunch, a 'white van man' on his mobile failed to notice that I had stopped to turn left - with plenty

of notice I might add. He ran into the back of me and caused a bit of damage to the back bumper mostly all cosmetic.

I pulled over, took his details and we went on our way. I contacted his insurance company, they told me to take it to a repair shop

and get the damage estimated. I did and the repair shop dealt with the opponent insurance company from then on. I got

a rental car at the expense of the opponent insurance company - a big fat Mercedes. One day later I got my car back - matter closed.

Case 2. My car was parked in a street near where we lived. One morning there was a note on the windscreen with a name and

mobile number and a nice bash on the back of the car. Same process as above - Car was fixed in two days at no cost to me.

I cannot understand why people call the police and leave their cars blocking the traffic when it's only a minor

incident where no-one has been hurt. Having said that I would be inclined to call the police if the other driver was pretty stroppy

about the whole thing. Maybe I was just lucky :rolleyes:

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Posted

You were lucky.My brother was driving down a main road on his brand new Motorbike.Not even 600 km on the clock.Bloke takes his right off way.Stops gets out and changes insurance deatails with my brother.Brother phones insurance company they get in touch with the bloke who says he knows nothing of it.Claiming my brother just stood there and threw his bike on its side.

No, always get the police involved if you are not at fault as it backs you up later on.

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Posted

Actually in my case, it was the witnesses who called the police. I have to say it was probably the best thing to happen that day. I went to the repair shop this morning and the fact that I had a police report helped in a big way for them to initiate the paperwork with the other person's insurance. BTW, the police was pretty nice and made the effort to speak english to us.

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Posted

Glad to hear it's all being sorted without any problems.

I've only ever had good experiences in Germany with car accidents (well at least as far as getting the money from the insurers is concerned). The only time there was a slight dely to one payment (someone ran into the back of me at a red traffic light - which left me hospitalised for 10 days) was because although the police came, they didn't breathalyse me, and the other driver's insurers tried to get a split of the damages on the basis that (according to them) I might have been drink driving.

Which was particularly annoying, given that the accident happened when I was on my way to work in the morning, and I was 5 months pregnant at the time, so I hadn't been drinking for months.

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Posted

A brief word to provide some closure on this post, today I got my car back, fully repaired and paid for by the other person's insurance company (HUK Coburg). I want to mention the insurance company was very professional and cooperative, same goes for Toyota of Düsseldorf and its repair shop.

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Posted

So today the police rings my door and asks me to come down to check on my car. It was a very suspenseful one-and-a-half block walk to the car. The policewoman escorting me only tells me that there was an accident, but would not say more. I get to the car, and the other policeman tells me that the lady that was standing next to him clipped the corner of the rear bumper while parking in. The resulting scratch is about the size of a hand. The lady had taken all responsibility for the accident (as I was perfectly well parked). We exchange contact info, the cop hands me the police report, we all shake hands and leave.

Shit happens.

This was, however, the first time this shit happens to me in Germany, so I had no idea what to do.

I call my insurance broker, and he says I have 3 options:

  1. Take the car to a body repair shop, take the police report, and let them handle everything from beginning to end.
  2. Call the lady's insurance company and ask for a settlement (i.e. leave scratch as is, get money from her insurance company)
  3. (I don't remember this one as I was really inclined towards option 1)

Even though I am 90% for option 1, has anyone gone for the settlement? The car in question is an old Merc W210 E-Class. I am guessing that having the MB Werkstatt repaint the bumper won't exactly be cheap, so I could get some badly needed money out of this unfortunate situation. Any suggestions/experiences?

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