What is a Road Accident? (Legal Information)
What is a Road Accident? The legal definition of the term “road \ vehicle \ car accident” is broader than the standard definition, of an injury caused following use of a motor vehicle (such as a car, motorcycle, truck, tractor, etc.). It might apply in cases where the vehicle was standing still, cases where an injury occurred while handling the motor vehicle, and even in cases involving non-standard vehicles (such as a forklift). This broad definition can sometimes create uncertainty in the question of whether a certain event can be classified as a road accident. In order to better understand what a road accident is, we have prepared this legal guide, in which a lawyer from our law firm, specializing in traffic law, explains what the law and the courts prescribe regarding the definition of a road accident.
Why is it so difficult to answer the question “What is a road accident”?
When we think about car accidents, we mostly imagine two vehicles colliding with each other, or running over a pedestrian. Though these are indeed salient examples of a vehicle accident, in actuality there is a rather broad spectrum of cases that can be included in this definition. Israeli Law with respect to Road Accident Victims Compensation provides a rather broad definition for road accidents. This definition might not only include cases of bodily damage caused following the use of a motor vehicle, but also, for example, cases of damage to a vehicle parked in a non-parking area. Likewise, the definition might include cases where a part of a motor vehicle, that is vital for driving, has caused an explosion or a fire, or cases where bodily damage is caused by abusing the vehicle’s mechanical power.
The broad definition prescribed in the law for the question of how to define a road accident, causes uncertainty when it comes to the question of what might be considered as a road accident. As a result, in more than a few cases, it’s impossible to definitively determine whether a certain event would be categorized as an auto accident or as another type of accident. Resolving this question is highly important, since, when it comes to events categorized as auto accidents, there’s no obligation to prove liability for the occurrence of the event in order to receive compensation for the accident from insurance companies. That is, compensation can be received in a much simpler and faster manner than filing a “regular” tort claim, where liability for the event would have to be proven, and where, in many cases, it is determined that the injured parties have contributed to the accident, to a certain extent (contributory fault) and will be awarded reduced compensation accordingly. For this reason, it’s important to have a good understanding of what might be classified as a road accident, and what the court has prescribed regarding this issue over the years. We provide detailed explanations below.
What does the law stipulate when it comes to tort claims following road accidents?
As mentioned above, the legal definition for the term “road accident” is broad, and includes more than just “regular” road accidents that include car collisions or running over pedestrians. The law stipulates that a road accident is “an event in which a person has suffered bodily damage following use of a motor vehicle for transportation purposes; the road accident shall also be considered as an event occurring following an explosion or fire in the vehicle, caused by a component of the vehicle or by another material integral to its capacity to drive, even if caused by an entity outside the vehicle, and in addition an event caused following damage to a vehicle parked in a non-parking area, or an event caused following abuse of the vehicle’s mechanical power, on the condition that during such use as aforesaid, such vehicle had not changed its original purpose; however, an event shall not be considered as a road accident it if occurred as a result of an act performed intentionally to cause damage to the body or property of the relevant person, and the damage was caused by the act itself, and not the act’s effect on the use of such motor vehicle.”
Over the years, the court has interpreted this definition and prescribed additional guidelines regarding this matter. For example, the Supreme Court has ruled in 1997 that even though it does not constitute a vehicle in the traditional sense (as opposed to a car or a truck), a forklift might be considered as a motor vehicle for the purpose of the law’s definition in this matter. However, one should examine in each case whether a certain forklift constitutes a dominant traffic risk under its specific circumstances. In contrast, the court has refused to recognize other cases as vehicle accidents, including forgetting a child on the bus, in a manner so as to cause her death (as determined in the ruling of CAA 3762/11). In another case from 2006 (CAA case 10721/05) the court determined that bodily damages, caused to riders in a vehicle following a rock explosion while paving a road, also do not constitute a vehicle accident. In these circumstances, there are many incidents that can be considered extreme cases, where it is impossible to know for certain whether the court might classify them as road accidents. In order to get a clear picture of any specific circumstances, it’s important to seek assistance and representation from a lawyer specializing in traffic and tort law in cases such as these, ideally as soon as possible following the date of the accident.
What does the law stipulate regarding the statute of limitations for road accidents?
In general, the law provides that a claim can be filed with respect to events constituting a road accident within 7 years following the date of the occurrence of the accident. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as cases involving minors. With respect to minors, the general rule is that the count of the aforesaid 7 years only begins upon reaching 18 years of age. Likewise in cases where the accident’s damages were only discovered at a later date following the date of the accident, and could not have been reasonably discovered previously. In such cases, this may extend the statute of limitation period. For additional information on this subject, please see our comprehensive guide on the statute of limitations for road accidents, published on our law firm’s website.
Who can file claim with respect to a road accident?
In addition to the term “road accident,” the law also provides a broad definition for the tern “injured party.” According to the law, a party injured from a road accident can be “any person who suffered bodily damage in a road accident, except if such was caused as a result of a Hostile Action, as such term in defined in the Victims of Hostile Action (Pensions) Law.” This broad definition can include any person who drove the vehicle that was damaged as part of the road accident, the passengers in the vehicle who were injured, pedestrians injured, and any other person who suffered bodily damage as a result of the accident. The law excludes victims of hostile actions from the definition of a road accident, since separate legal provisions apply with regards to them, including unique guidelines with respect to Victims of Hostile Action Pensions.
What to do when the identity of the tortfeasor driver is unknown?
Cases of hit and run accidents, where a driver collides with another vehicle or runs over pedestrians, while their identity can’t be confirmed, can be particularly complex. This is because, even if the event can be decidedly classified as a road accident, the person responsible for the accident cannot be sued. In order to prevent a state where the people injured in these events (which, unfortunately, occur quite frequently in Israel), one may be able to file suit against a special compensation fund for road accident victims in cases of this kind, called “Karnit.” You can find additional information about this fund, and the possibilities available to road accident victims in cases of this kind, in another article published on our law firm’s website about compensation for road accident victims.
What is a road accident – contact a lawyer specializing in traffic and tort law
In this article, we have presented important information in order to answer the complex question of “What is a road accident?” We explained who may file suit with respect to it, how long you can file suit following the accident, and what you can do in cases of a hit and run accident, in which the driver’s identity is unknown. For any additional question on this topic, you’re welcome to contact our law firm, located in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and we’ll be happy to help. Our law firm specializes in traffic and tort law, and provides our customers with a comprehensive array of legal services in cases of traffic accidents, bodily damage, property damage, and psychological damage caused following accidents.