Holiday Car Crashes getting easier to claim for!

Car accidents abroad are a common source of misery for countless holidaymakers each year, not least because the typical issues affecting domestic road traffic accidents are usually multiplied when dealing with foreign cases. However, despite such difficulties, a typical victim of a car accident abroad will still be able to make a successful claim for compensation in many cases. It is worth noting that road traffic accidents rarely involve one party who is 100 per cent liable, so apportioning blame is another obstacle that is commonly encountered when chasing compensation for foreign car accidents – especially where hire cars are concerned.

Indeed, as Paul Gosling recently highlighted in the Independent’s online money section, hiring a car abroad – in this case from a firm called Europcar – can often involve hidden costs when relatively minor accidents occur. As cited in Gosling’s example of a man who was charged €75 plus VAT for scratches found down the side of a hire vehicle, rental agreements will typically cover routine scrapes and knocks (of which the customer may not be aware) by charging for an administration fee upon inspection. As such, difficulties are routinely encountered when a hire car is subject to an accident that is unbeknown to the customer (typically when the vehicle is parked), which is why discussing any such claim with lawyers who specialise in holiday and travel accidents is advisable.

In any case, suffering a car accident whilst on holiday is a particularly nightmarish scenario for a number of reasons. First, the entire experience can overwhelm many tourists who are perhaps unfamiliar with the local language and feel intimidated by the region’s customs. Second, there is a common misconception that chasing up a car accident claim that occurred abroad is more hassle than it is worth. Indeed, although this is sometimes the case for particularly trivial incidents, those that involve extensive damage or personal injury claims are worth pursuing to a satisfactory conclusion in almost all circumstances. Moreover, this is relatively straightforward to accomplish from the UK.

In fact, if you happen to suffer a car accident abroad that is not your fault, fully qualified lawyers in the UK will be able to chase a claim for compensation. Indeed, if such an accident were to occur in the EU, there are legal mechanisms in place that serve to make the whole process of accident claims that much easier. Specifically, the European Union’s 4th and 5th Motor Insurance Directives provide that European insurers are required to appoint a UK handling agent, who will deal with any personal injury claims in English. European insurers are also required to act within a specific time frame, whilst language and cultural barriers are to be avoided.

Furthermore, because all legal vehicle owners in the EU are registered on a central database, it is essential that an accident claimant makes a note of the defendant’s vehicle registration number, which is vital for identification purposes. Moreover, following the important case of FBTO and Odenbeit [2006], the European Court of Justice has ruled that accident claims can be litigated in the UK but under the law of the country in which the accident occurred, which tends to solve more problems than it creates as claimants need not travel across Europe in their pursuit of compensation. Finally, the law is not limited to actions in Europe alone, so it is always worth discussing a potential claim with a team of professional solicitors.

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