Did you travel to work or with your family, and hit a car or pedestrian? What is the right thing to do and what are the possible consequences? If you were injured or suffered damage to property as a result of traffic accidents, you must also follow the right course of action in order to exhaust your rights.
Traffic accidents are one of the most stressful situations when it comes to transportation, but also one of the most common. Statistics show that most of us will be involved in at least one vehicular accident during our lifetime.
Some rules of thumb that apply to any accident:
- Call rescue services: Did you hurt anyone? Call for help. This is the first and most important thing to do. Medical treatment comes first, and only then is it time to examine damage to property. This is not only the right moral choice, but also the legal course of action that will protect you later.
- Get immediate legal assistance: Contacting a transport lawyer as soon as possible is often a critical factor in the lawyer’s ability to assist you. An offending driver will, of course, want to contact an attorney, but this is also true in a situation where you or any of your family members have been injured. Do not wait to get home, and certainly do not wait a few days to calm down. Contact a lawyer immediately, while you’re still at the scene, as close as possible to the time of the incident. That way, the lawyer will be able to better advise you on how to behave during an investigation, if you are summoned to one, and this may significantly impact your court case, if and when it is opened.
It is important to note that, even if the blame for the accident is on you, and even if a charge has been filed against you, you are entitled to compensation for bodily injuries. If you have suitable comprehensive insurance (Makif), you can also receive compensation for damage to your vehicle. Even in relatively minor accidents you are entitled to compensation for bodily injuries.
A vehicle collision from behind that creates, for example, an injury called a “whiplash”, which can cause headaches for an extended period of time and impairment of earning capacity. There are a number of steps that need to be taken in order to ease the claim process against the insurance companies:
- The incident should be documented in detail, including extracting documentation of the accident from the vehicle camera, if any, taking photos of the damage to the vehicle and to other vehicles, if any, documenting the scene of the incident (e.g., near a road sign, bridge, or other recognizable object), and recording the full details of those involved in the accident, including the vehicle license, valid insurance certificate, driver’s license, or ID number.
- Do not sign any impromptu statement, requested by any of the parties involved in the accident, according to which you plead guilty.
- Seek medical attention – emergency room, Terem, a health maintenance clinic, or a private doctor. It is advisable to call an ambulance. In any case, make sure that the evacuation and the reason for it are documented in print.
- If the traffic accident occurred during work, this must be stated in the medical documents in order to allow a claim with the National Insurance Institute (Bituah Leumi) as well.
- In the case of a self-inflicted accident, it is recommended in any case to evacuate by ambulance so that it will not be claimed that the injury was caused by any other reason. The reason for the evacuation must be written in the discharge / hospitalization document of the medical institution.
- Make sure that your complaint before the relevant authority is documented in print and is not missing any details. Make sure the description of the pain and its location are recorded. This is not the time to say “it will be okay” or “it will pass”. Everything must be recorded, or else the insurance company will be able to claim that it is not related to the accident.
- Contact the police station to receive a certificate confirming the accident.
- It is important to keep the full documentation even after discharge home, including referrals for further treatment, medical certificates, physiotherapy treatments, and more.
- Get legal advice from an expert transport lawyer or bodily injury lawyer as soon as possible.
The Importance of Speed in Contacting a Lawyer Who Specializes in the Field
In serious accidents as well as minor accidents, the Israel Police usually brings a traffic examiner on its behalf to examine the scene, the circumstances of the accident and, as a result, the blame for the accident and its severity. This is often used to build the infrastructure for the charge if it is discovered that there was negligence on the part of one of the parties. The traffic examiner works on behalf of the prosecution, and his viewpoint is a criticizing one. Therefore, in any accident involving the police, it is important to contact a lawyer quickly, even before the vehicles are evacuated from the lane.
If it is decided to file a charge, this is especially important. The lawyer may order an independent traffic examiner to examine the matters from a defense point of view, and to be able to disagree with the facts of the charge, if necessary, after having documented the matters himself. An independent traffic examiner may illuminate other points, checking into points that the Israel Police traffic examiner did not check into and, thus, it may be possible to reduce damages for the accused driver, make the procedure more efficient, and bring up circumstances that may reduce punishment and even lead to acquittal.
I Was Injured in an Accident and Want to Claim Compensation
Until 1975, it was necessary to personally sue the driver who caused the accident in order to receive compensation that would enable rehabilitation and recovery. The laws relating to transport are complex and complicated, and it was often difficult to prove the driver’s guilt and, consequently, receive compensation. As a result, many road victims were left without compensation even though they were seriously injured. The Road Accident Victims Compensation Law, 1975, eliminated the need to prove guilt and left us with the question of whether or not damage was caused by the road accident in question.
The law requires all vehicle owners to take out obligatory insurance (Bituach Chova) that allows, in cases of bodily injury, to sue the insurance company for compensation. In the case of a pedestrian who is injured, the claim is against the insurance company of the injuring vehicle.
What Does the Compensation Consist of?
There are a number of factors that affect the amount of compensation. The courts usually take into account the following factors in determining how much compensation the victim deserves:
- Severity of the injury and the impairment of earning capacity (including percentage of disability and other injuries)
- Age of the injured party, taking into account the number of years of work up to retirement age – the younger the injured party, the greater the compensation.
- The level of wages before the injury.
- Additional personal circumstances.
Many other variables are also taken into consideration when determining the amount of compensation, including the salary and social rights lost by the victim as a result of the accident, days of hospitalization and other uncovered medical expenses, rehabilitation costs and medical aids, pain and suffering, and legal expenses.
Hit and Run
It is important to note that the law defines a rule of “uniqueness of the cause”, which allows for filing a bodily injury claim only against the offending party and blocks the possibility of filing such a claim against a third party in cases where the driver has escaped and cannot be found, or in cases where there is no legally valid obligatory insurance.
Especially for such cases there is a fund for compensation for victims of traffic accidents called “Karnit”, which serves as an insurance company in cases where there is no insurance company against which a claim can be filed.
In any case of a hit and run accident, the following should be performed:
- Document the incident by security cameras, car cameras, or cameras of nearby civilians.
- Create a list of all known details of the offending vehicle, including the license number, type and color of the vehicle, etc.
- Create a list of witnesses who saw the incident.
- In the case of a pedestrian, call an ambulance and call the police.
- File a complaint at a police station in person as soon as possible.
Compensation for Damage to Property
Obligatory insurance only covers bodily injuries. Comprehensive insurances of all kinds, which are non-obligatory, allow for compensation for damage to property. In such cases, the claim should be filed against the insurance company of the offending driver or, if there is no such insurance company, against the driver himself. If there is a dispute about the blame for the accident or the components of compensation, the matter is referred to the Court of Traffic Offenses, but the insurance companies decide on the disputed issues between themselves, with each company representing the driver through its own lawyers.
Traffic Accidents as Work Accidents
In cases where the traffic accident occur while working, a claim must be filed against Bituah Leumi in order to receive compensation for a work injury, and the claim must be filed within 12 months from the date of the accident. Only then should a claim be filed against the insurance company as usual. These are two separate compensations, although the insurance companies usually deduct the amount of compensation that the injured party receives from Bituah Leumi even if he decides not to file a claim at all (which is called a conceptual deduction – deduction of the compensation that the victim could have received if he had filed a claim against Bituah Leumi).
The laws relating to transport are complex and complicated. In case you have caused damage to property and certainly bodily injury, or in case you or someone in your family has been injured and you want to file a lawsuit, it is necessary to be represented by an experienced transport attorney as close as possible to the time of the incident. Being represented by an experienced attorney affects not only the amount of compensation as a result of, among other things, the ability of the attorney to make analogies from past cases and rulings, but also the time of the procedure and the ability to receive initial compensation even before the ruling is passed, in a procedure called “frequent payment”. The Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law firm has professional lawyers who are well versed in transport law and bodily injury law and have decades of experience.