Whoever is involved in a traffic accident is confronted with various legal topics and laws (road traffic act, civil law, criminal law), depending on the form of involvement. As a witness you are obliged to get help or to help to the best of one´s knowledge (otherwise: denial of assistance) and to provide information on the circumstances of the accident (question of fault). As the involved party and especially as suspected perpetrator of the accident, you may not leave the accident scene (otherwise: hit-and-run). The accident site must be secured with a breakdown triangle if the other traffic is obstructed or endangered. In the event of personal injury, the police must be informed in any case, because bodily injury can be suspected and this can be a criminal offence – in contrast to mere material damage of a vehicle or road constructions. It is obvious how important it is to have legal certainty and therefore a lawyer´s expertise in order to avoid a traffic accident resulting in unjustified claims for damages or criminal consequences (up to a previous conviction).
Every situation needs to be observed individually. We will gladly take the time it takes to also discuss your situation extensively. Thus, please make an appointment for a noncommittal informational interview.
A traffic accident only rarely has no consequences at all. These range from minimal damages to write-off of the vehicles involved. Apart from the material damage, also possible personal injury such as the famous whiplash injury is amongst the consequences as well as injuries causing permanent damage or even death. Damages which you have caused to other people involved in the accident are paid by the liability insurance. The legislator regulates a minimum insurance sum of EUR 7.6 million (6.3 million for personal damages, 1.3 million for material damages). Any costs exceeding this sum must be paid by the culpable driver him/herself.
Who is eventually liable for which damage, depends on the question of liability. The question of fault also plays a significant role for insurance proceedings. Apart from that there is strict liability according to the regulations governing the liability insurance of railways and motor vehicles (EISENBAHN- UND KRAFTFAHRZEUGHAFTPFLICHTGESETZ EKHG).
If there is no amicable settlement with the insurance, the claims for damages can be enforced judicially. Generally, in order to solve the question of culpability, a certified expert´s report on the circumstances of the accident is called on.
Nearly every driver has already been confronted with the administrative criminal law. Here, it is especially about fines due to illegal parking, speeding or drink-driving. If you were fined because of one of these issues, it does not always have to be justified. Legal appeals can be filed against unjustified fines.
You cannot file an appeal against a traffic ticket or an anonymous administrative penalty (both shortened administrative criminal proceedings). If the determined fine is not paid within the deadline (2 weeks for a traffic ticket, 4 weeks for an anonymous administrative penalty), a penal order follows or administrative criminal proceedings are initiated. You can file a justified appeal against a penal order (not guilty, fine too high, etc.). In the administrative criminal proceedings, you can personally state your position already before the notification of penalty or warning. If the authority agrees to the arguments, the proceedings are stopped. Otherwise, an appeal can also be filed against the notification at the State Administration Court, resp. the Federal Administration court.
Claims of people with an Austrian nationality after an accident which occurred outside of Europe can only be made on-site at national courts.
The enforcement of claims for damages from traffic accidents within the European union are considerably easier and cheaper to handle. The damaged party can even regulate the claims in his/her home country and can sue the foreign vehicle liability insurance at his place of residence.
Apart from this possibility, the law of the country where the accident occurred, must be applied in lawsuits at Austrian courts. Knowledge of the respective applicable material law of the country where the accident occurred is of great importance, as serious differences can derive from the type and scope of compensations. This knowledge is especially required for lawsuits and settlements. Therefore, the constant cooperation with international lawyers and knowledge of the current jurisdiction is essential. Also in this legal field our law firm can provide decades of experience.
If you are innocently involved in an accident abroad (traffic accident, sports accident), this raises additional legal problems. Very often the cooperation with foreign authorities is very difficult due to the language barrier. For traffic accidents outside the EU, possible claims must directly be submitted to the foreign liability insurance. Very often, the effort is rather great due to the often problematic legal situation, but especially due to very slow practise of liquidation of foreign insurances. With accidents abroad but within the EU, the damaged party can even regulate the claims at the court of his/her home country – if this lies within the EU – and can sue the foreign vehicle liability insurance.
If you were involved in an accident with personal injury, you might have violated the rules of behaviour which is legally punishable. Should the prerequisites therefore be fulfilled, criminal charges can be filed because of bodily injury (§§ 83 and 84 StGB), negligent homicide (§§ 80 and 81 StGB) or maybe even additionally “abandoning an injured person” according to §94 StGB. If witnesses or people who become aware of the consequences of an accident do not provide assistance, they can be prosecuted for failure to render assistance in an emergency (§ 95 StGB).