Road Traffic Accidents – What to Do in Spain

broken stop signLiving in another country and having to deal with difficult situations in a language other than your own can make things even more traumatic. We asked a specialist company in Spain for advice for anyone involved in a road traffic accident about what they should do. Here’s what they had to say:

Having suffered the ordeal and stress of a road traffic accident, the long term implications for you and your family may just be beginning.  Adjusting to temporary or possibly permanent physical injuries may not only affect the way you get around your house but also your ability to work and earn an income. The costs of living will still be there regardless of any injuries.

The insurance company should be contacted immediately the accident occurs, and if this is not possible within seven days. It’s also important to think about protecting your interests in the event of any compensation claim for injuries suffered during the accident – make sure a professional is looking after your interests as early as possible.

Insurance policies normally include legal protection for clients.  Using this service may be convenient initially but is it your best option? If you elect to use the insurer’s service they will appoint a lawyer for you. This lawyer does not know you and although your policy may have been provided in English how well can this lawyer communicate with you? If you don’t speak Spanish very well, does this lawyer speak good English? You need to feel comfortable that the person representing you understands you. However, it’s also important that the lawyer has experience of dealing with compensation claims resulting from road traffic accidents. Just because your lawyer helped you buy your flat in Spain does not make them an expert in compensation claims.

Another factor to bear in mind is that if you use the insurer’s lawyer then they are paying for his or her services. Whilst the lawyer will no doubt look after you, who are they ultimately answerable to? Is it you or the insurance company? How are they paid?  Do they receive a flat fee per case regardless of the outcome? If you choose the lawyer yourself then the lawyer is answerable to you.

Most insurance policies will restrict the amount of fees they will pay under your legal cover if you decide to use your own legal representation. This is understandable as they need to exercise some control. Depending on which insurance company the amount they will cover can be as low as 600€. This clearly isn’t going to pay your legal bill if you choose your own lawyer. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Spain will know more or less what the individual insurance companies pay and will agree a contract with you as to how they receive their fees. This is usually done as a percentage of the amount you receive as compensation and is sometimes known as “no-win no-fee” and whilst this reduces the amount of compensation you receive they clearly have motivation to do a good job for you. The amount is agreed with you before you start so you are clear about the cost.

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