Motor vehicle accidents are a concern that may become a reality for any driver in their daily routines. These may involve residents in the Member State where the accident takes place and residents in another Member State, as well as vehicles registered in the Member State where the accident happens and vehicles registered in another Member State.
The judicial and extra judicial settlement of motor vehicle accidents is one of the work areas of the Litigation and Arbitration Law department of Belzuz Abogados, S.L.P., Portugal that, among others, provides consultancy and protection regarding claims made by and against foreign insurers arising from accidents that took place in national territory or in another Member State.
Aware of this, the European Union by means of Directive 2009/103/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council dated September 16, 2009, relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles and the enforcement of the obligation to insure against such liability, sets forth a number of measures destined to grant effective protection to victims of accidents that take place in European territory.
Insurance companies are obliged to appoint a claims representative in each Member State, except for the State where they have been granted an official authorisation, in order to guarantee the compensation of the parties injured “in accidents that take place in a Member State that is not their State of residence and that are caused by vehicles that are usually parked and insured in a given Member State”.
Also, the creation of Information Centres that keep updated records of licence plates, policies and insurers covering the movement of motor vehicles and their representatives in the Member States aims at making it easier for injured parties to obtain all information required for exercising their right to compensation in their Member State of residence.
In addition, there is a Compensation Body in each Member State that is responsible for indemnifying injured persons residing in such State that may have been involved in accidents that took place outside their countries and that were caused by vehicles registered in another Member State, provided that:
• The insurer or its claims representative do not provide a reasoned reply to the arguments described in the claim that was sent to them within a period of three months;
• The insurer has not yet designated its claims representative for the Member State of residence of the injured person.
This way, every person who see themselves involved in a motor vehicle accident in a Member State that is not their State of residence may present their claim:
a) In the Country where the accident took place, directly with the insurer of the vehicle responsible for the accident;
b) In their Country of residence with the claims representative appointed by the insurer their Member State;
c) Under certain circumstances, in their Country with the Compensation Body.
Without prejudice to the above, please note that in this specific case neither the applicable material law nor the jurisdictional competence are affected by this system where claims representatives are appointed, and all rules set forth by specific regulations are still kept.
Considering that Regulation (EC) No. 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations («Rome II») lays down that the general rule is the application of the laws of the country in which damage occurs, on most occasions corresponding to the place of the accident and unknown to non-residents, it is convenient that the injured person collects right in the moment of the accident all data required for their claim, with police reports, green card, photos of final positions of vehicles and sustained damages, and identification of people who have witnessed the accident being the most relevant for this purpose.
Lastly, a reference to the green card bureaux system where the “Managing Bureau”, unlike the Compensation Body, intervenes in accidents that take place in its own country, whether for the compensation of residents or residents in another European country, provided that:
• Accidents have been caused by a motor vehicle registered in an EU Member State,
• There is a valid insurance at the date of the accident.
Despite the complexity of this problem, we suggest that we keep in mind all main entities involved in the proceedings and settlement of motor vehicle accidents involving residents and vehicles of another Member State and perform a case-by-case analysis in order to determine the solution that best suits the interests of a given case.
Belzuz Abogados, S.L.P., Portugal relies on an experienced, qualified team of professionals that provide their clients with consultancy services in the field of motor vehicle accident settlement, from the extra judicial to the judicial phase, whenever these services are necessary.
Belzuz Abogados SLP
La presente publicación contiene información de carácter general sin que constituya opinión profesional ni asesoría jurídica. © Belzuz Abogados, S.L.P., quedan reservados todos los derechos. Se prohíbe la explotación, reproducción, distribución, comunicación pública y transformación total o parcial, de esta obra, sin autorización escrita de Belzuz Abogados, S.L.P.