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What should I do in the event of a traffic accident?

The number of road accidents is increasing year by year and although none of us wants it to happen, the likelihood that one day it will happen to us is not entirely remote. In any case, it is good to be prepared and know how to behave in such a situation. In addition to the usual legal advice, today we will add some purely practical ones.

Muž, který volá policii po autonehodě
8 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

I was directly involved in an accident as a driver

The first thing you should think about is the safety of yourself, your loved ones and other road users. If you are able to do so (i.e. you are not seriously injured, for example), you must first of all secure your vehicle. Switch off the engine, wear a reflective vest, which is part of the compulsory equipment, and place a warning triangle at least 50 metres from the vehicle (at least 100 metres on the motorway). If you are not alone in the car, passengers should also wear their vests and be taken to safety (safely behind the barriers in the event of an accident on the motorway). If anyone in your car or another road user is injured, call the emergency services.

Although you are no doubt in shock, taking a drink to take courage now is not the best idea. On the other hand, you should refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages if it can be assumed that you will be examined to see if you have been drinking before driving (and this is pretty much always possible in a car accident).

Consequently, you should be cooperative to investigate the circumstances of the accident, not only with the police who may be called, but also with the other driver with whom the collision occurred. Together you should draw up a record of the accident.

If the other driver accuses you of being at fault, do not hesitate to consult a lawyer about the correct course of action.

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I’m driving or walking by and I see a traffic accident

Even if you did not directly cause the accident and are just in the vicinity, it is your duty to help the injured. If there are such persons, give them first aid and always call the ambulance and the police.

Failure to render assistance

Remember that rendering assistance is not your goodwill but a direct legal obligation. If you do not give assistance to the injured in the above cases, you are very likely to commit one of the following offences:

Failure to render aid by the driver of a motor vehicle – this offence is committed by the driver of a motor vehicle who was involved in an accident and failed to render necessary aid to the injured persons when he or she could have done so without danger to himself or herself or another. In such a case, it is irrelevant whether the driver was directly at fault for the accident, but that he or she was involved in the accident in any way (e.g. even if another driver failed to give way and hit him or her).

The means of transport in question does not necessarily have to be a car, but can be a scooter, bicycle or anything similar.
You don’t necessarily need to have a paramedic course to help; calling an ambulance counts as a minimum. On the other hand, having some basic knowledge of providing medical assistance will certainly make you feel more confident in traffic. Perpetrators of this offence can face up to five years imprisonment.

Failure to render assistanceif a seriously injured person intentionally fails to render necessary assistance to other persons in the vicinity of the accident, even though they can do so without danger to themselves or another, they commit an offence punishable by up to two years imprisonment. If the person who is obliged to render assistance by the nature of his or her occupation (doctor, paramedic, etc.) fails to do so, then he or she faces a ban on his or her activity or up to three years’ imprisonment.

Offences relating to traffic accidents

If you do not respect the above-mentioned obligations imposed by law on drivers in the event of a traffic accident (e.g. failing to stop the vehicle, failing to report the accident to the police if necessary, failing to provide assistance, etc.), you are committing traffic offences for which you are liable to various penalties under the Road Traffic Act. These then carry various penalties under the Road Traffic Act.

If you drive away from a traffic accident in which no injuries were sustained, you may be fined between 2,500 crowns and 5,000 crowns and fined up to 1,000 crowns in a block procedure, with the person who has committed the offence twice or more in the past twelve months not being able to be dealt with in a block procedure, and in an administrative procedure not only being fined but also being banned from driving for one to six months.

When must the police be called to a traffic accident?

Do you think that the ideal is to come to some kind of agreement with the other party in an accident and then leave the rest to the insurance companies? There are cases where that’s not enough. You must call the police to the accident if:

  • There are injuries or deaths.
  • There is damage to third party property (not necessarily to specific persons, but for example damage to public lighting, furniture, traffic signs, or environmental damage).
  • The amount of damage to some of the damaged vehicles is more than CZK 100 000. This includes the items transported, so if you have “only” spilled glass, which irrevocably destroyed your favourite Birkin worth 300,000 crowns, then calling the police is the right thing to do. If you’re not sure of the amount of damage, then you’d better also call.
  • The parties involved in a traffic accident cannot restore the flow of traffic on their own.

If the damage is less than CZK 100,000 but the participants have not agreed together on who caused it, it is theoretically not necessary to call the police, but only to indicate this on the form, but the Police of the Czech Republic itself recommends calling on its website.

Tip: We have also covered the procedure for compensation after a car accident and the different ways of dealing with compensation in our article.

What about handling the car?

The basic rule is: do not do anything to the car until the police arrive. This need not be followed only if it is obvious that the police will not be called, or if you move the car, for example, to free other people or to allow emergency vehicles to pass. If you already have to move the car, try to mark the original position, for example with chalk or coloured spray paint, or take photographs of it from different sides. A photo is recommended in any case.

Record of the accident

If there is no reason to call the police, you should in any case make a joint record as parties to the accident. It is generally advisable to use the so-called Euro form provided by your insurance company or you can find it on the website of the Ministry of Transport. Don’t rely on others having it too and print it out twice. The form itself guides you to fill in everything you need to. In any case, the record should include a description of the location of the accident, the time, cause, course of the accident and consequences (damage to vehicles or other damage), identification of the parties and vehicles involved.

The record should be signed by all parties involved and then forwarded to the at-fault party’s insurance company for a claim. Always write down the names and addresses of not only the other drivers but also any witnesses to the accident. If the person at fault does not want to give you their details, at least write down their number plate number, which can be traced later. In any case, it is also advisable to take several photographs of the accident itself and of the surrounding area (traffic signs indicating speed, right of way, etc.).

Contact the assistance service

Always remember to keep an assistance card in your car with the contact details of your insurance company, which you should call especially if your vehicle becomes immobile. In the event that you are not at fault for the accident, assistance services will be covered by the at-fault party’s liability insurance.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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