In the event of a car accident in Italy, the manner in which the situation is handled is different based on the seriousness of the incident. If you have been involved in an accident, there are several precautionary measures you need to be aware of.
Whether you are the person responsible or the victim, you must remain calm and document the incident as it happened. Reporting a traffic accident with another vehicle is required by law, just as it is mandatory to inform your insurance company. If you have caused the accident, you have three days to report it.
If there have been serious damages to vehicles and/or people, it is necessary to call the police immediately, and not to move the vehicles involved until authorities arrive.
If it is a minor road accident, the vehicles must be moved so as not to get in the way of traffic. Before moving the vehicles it is advisable to take pictures.
When the road accident takes place in Italy
It should be said that in Italy a vehicle can be driven only if you have a driving license and civil liability insurance, known as R.C. Auto.
Permission to drive is only granted if you are in possession of insurance approved by the Highway Code. This legislation is extended to every motor vehicle not running on rails.
The stipulation of an insurance policy covers you for any possible damages caused by the driver.
Road accidents: information collection and the CAI form
At the time of signing insurance, motorists are normally provided with “friendly accident report forms”, once known as CID modules but which over time have changed their name to CAI. The forms are easily available online and it is highly advisable to complete the form immediately after any traffic accident.
These forms serve to speed up reimbursement procedures in the event of a minor accident, but they also provide an excellent guide to directing the collection of information that will be used later to obtain damages.
If it is agreed with the other motorists involved on the modalities of the accident and on the faults, after completing the CAI form all the parties will have to sign it. If agreeance of fault is not possible, filling the form out is still important as it details the events surrounding the accident.
It is essential, in the event of a car accident in Italy, to try to maintain control and understand how the events occurred and to have enough clarity to gather as much information as possible in the moment, while the memory is still fresh.
The CAI form must include:
- date and place of the accident (the name of the street and the nearest street number if this is possible);
- vehicle data (license plate and type of vehicle/s);
- name of insurance companies that cover vehicles, policy numbers and contact details;
- type of insurance coverage (if you also have an accessory guarantee to cover material damage);
- driver data (including driver’s license details);
- presence of material damage to the vehicles involved;
- presence of material damage to any other vehicles or objects;
- presence of any witnesses, whether they are passengers of the vehicles involved or whether they are strangers, whose phone numbers must also be recorded in order for the proper authorities to contact them;
- circumstances of the accident (17 possible situations that occurred at the time of the accident);
- graphic representation of the accident, to try and explain with a drawing of what happened. Use arrows to indicate driving directions and impact points between vehicles.
If the form is signed by all drivers involved, it will be possible for the insurance agencies to speed up processing the claim, plus it will make sure that the dynamics will not be reviewed or challenged.
Drivers must hand in a copy to their insurance agency which will assess the extent of the damage and the reimbursement. If there have been no injuries, the procedure is straightforward and quick.
Any claim for compensation to your insurance company must include, if they’re applicable, the names and contact details of any witnesses. This is not a detail to be underestimated because insurance can refuse to pay if sufficient evidence (i.e. witnesses). If there have been injuries this rule is invalid.
Road accidents: when to involve the police
It is mandatory to request the assistance of the police in the presence of injuries, possible criminal liability a driver involved, or when a large number of vehicles are involved. It is also appropriate to alert the authorities if major traffic issues result as a consequence of a road accident, no matter how minor.
Police presence ensures that the injured have assistance, that the vehicles are secured and that the driver’s documents are in order.
They also create witness statements, collect data and prepare a report on the events, which will then be made available to the parties involved.
Road accident with vehicles registered abroad
If vehicles registered abroad are involved in an accident on Italian roads, legal procedures will certainly be lengthened.
If the person responsible for the accident is driving a foreign vehicle, the Italian law indicates that they should apply for compensation from the UCI, the Italian Central Office.
In the event that the foreign driver is not at fault in the accident, the driver must contact the Italian insurer of the vehicle that is at fault.
It is important to note that the UCI has no jurisdiction in the case of vehicles fitted with an Italian license plate with foreign insurance. However, in this instance, it is still advisable to fill in the CAI form and attempt to reach agreements with the affected parties, in addition to taking photographs.
The difficulty for the Italian authorities lies in tracing foreign license plates, however, the General Motorization is actively working with its counterparts from other European and non-European countries in addressing this issue.
The Green Card
For foreigners who travel in Italy on their own with externally insured vehicles, and if their insurance does not cover them in the event of accidents abroad, it is advisable to have a Green Card, an International Motor Insurance Card that demonstrates the fulfilment of an insurance policy that covers the minimum third party liability insurance for the country that you are travelling in. It is normally issued directly by your insurance provider.
In the event of a traffic accident in Italy, the Green Card covers the insured for damages caused to third parties or for those injured. However, if you are responsible for damages incurred through negligence, a Kasko policy covers you for damages done to the other party.
In the event of a sudden departure, the Green Card can also be issued at the border of the country in which one intends to enter if in that country it is obligatory to have when travelling with foreign motor vehicles. This temporary insurance covers the period in which the traveller is in the country.
The Green Card was introduced in 1949 and owes its name to the colour of the sheet in which it is printed. It is not necessary for Europeans in European Union countries to obtain one, where it is sufficient to show their civil car insurance.
The Green Card, although it may be an excellent resource, does not normally result in speedy compensation, because the national competent office must be involved, which is responsible for assessing the requests and acting as a mediator between the insurance companies of the vehicles involved.
In the event of an accident occurring in Italy but caused by a car with a non-Italian license plate registered in one of the countries adhering to the Green Card, the request for compensation must be sent directly to the UCI by registered letter with return receipt.
Road accidents in Italy with foreign-coated cars
The Highway Code has recently revised the provisions for vehicles with foreign plates in Italy for extended periods, forcing them to comply with Italian law. Seeking compensation for damages with those who have registered cars abroad (in an effort not to be held responsible, fiscal and or with driving penalties) has been challenging in the past. Foreign vehicles which intend on being used in the country must be re-registered in Italy within 1 year and are subject to high fines and seizure if not followed.
Buying a vehicle abroad and using it in Italy has become the practice for many “crafty people” who do so to avoid paying tax and enjoy considerably lower insurance costs.
The difference in origin of vehicles can be problematic, and thus the recommended way to deal with these situations is to contact a lawyer.
The UCI, the Italian Central Office, acts as a guarantor at the time of payment for damages caused in Italy by cars that are registered in another country. The same applies to cars registered in Italy that are involved in accidents abroad, as a local office, similar to the UCI, will deal with compensation.
It is important to note that if you are abroad the Green Card also covers health costs, but not legal assistance.
The Guarantee Fund for Road Victims
In the event that the person who has caused the accident is not insured or moves away without notice, a Guarantee Fund for Road Victims exists in which the victim of an accident can apply for to assist with damages.
Passengers or third parties deserve separate consideration. In the event of a traffic accident in Italy, how are passengers taken care of? Passengers are protected by the insurance of the vehicle in which they travel, even if the driver of the vehicle they ride in is responsible for the accident.
Road accident caused by poor road maintenance
And if the road itself is the cause of an accident? The condition of the road surface, all too often, results in damage to motor vehicles. In the most extreme cases, Newspapers report instances where chasms have “swallowed” vehicles entirely, and a careful eye is enough to see how neglected Italian roads are, especially those in the south of Italy.
It is possible to request an account and reason for damages by the those responsible for road maintenance, be it Municipalities (Regional or State) or private companies in charge of managing road maintenance. The 2016 Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle law places hefty responsibilities on those who are entrusted with road maintenance.
Accidents between vehicles and pedestrians
If the accident occurred between a vehicle and a pedestrian, apart from very rare exceptions, the driver of the vehicle is considered to be solely responsible for the accident and condemned to compensate the damages suffered by the pedestrian.
The pedestrian relies on police records and on hospital/medical documentation.
Accidents between vehicles and bicycles
If a bicycle is involved, laws regulating the circulation of bicycles are immediately applied. To ride a bicycle, as a non-motorized vehicle, there is no compulsory insurance coverage, so the ordinary compensation procedure must be followed.
The cyclist can contact the insurance company of the vehicle with which the accident occurred. But if the same cyclist fails to demonstrate that his conduct has not contributed to causing the road accident, the fault will be divided 50/50 and compensation will be reduced.
If at the time of the accident the cyclist was pushing the bicycle on foot, they are considered a pedestrian. It is necessary to take photos, if possible, and keep notes on the accident, medical reports, receipts and any other materials relating to physical.
Accident between vehicles and motorized scooters
In Italy, the electric scooter (designed for the transport of a single person) are not permitted to be driven on motorways as per the Highway Code (art. 190). Whether it is a unicycle, a scooter, a skateboard, a hoverboard, a segway or any other type of electric device, it cannot go on the sidewalk, bike path nor highway.
If the vehicle does not exceed 6 km/h, they fall into the category of “gait accelerators”. If they exceed 6 km/h, they are equated to 50cc scooters and therefore need to be registered, display a license plate and have insurance coverage… a real challenge at this point in time for the authorities, who hope to see progressive changes to the Highway Code sometime this year.
The anticipated changes will include the regulation of new forms of mobility. With the new changes to the law, motorized scooters will be liable and pay from their own pockets, unless they have a special policy for damages to third parties (not motor vehicle insurance, but extended personal insurance).
In the case a minor is involved, all responsibility lies with the parents.
If the accident occurred on the street and damages are exclusive to the vehicle, damages will be paid by the insurance of the same, and the driver of the scooter will be fined. In the event the fault is divided amongst the parties, the compensation will reflect the same.
Scooters for the disabled with an electric motor
Law No. 120 of 2010 introduced the difference between “vehicles” and “non-vehicles”. Scooters for the disabled that are equipped with an electric motor by law labels them as “aids for disabled physicians, even if driven by a motor”, thus not defined as a vehicle but as an aid.
In this regard, Article 190 of the Highway Code states that “machines for the use of children or disabled persons, even if served by a motor, can circulate on parts of the road reserved for pedestrians”.
Electric scooters can, therefore, circulate on sidewalks, docks, avenues and other special spaces. In the event that they do not have the ability to pass, scooters for the disabled have permission to circulate on the edge of the road, on the left (ie in the opposite direction to the direction of travel of the regular vehicles).
Electric vehicles used by the elderly and disabled cannot be insured, thus they are not in the possession of a license plate or registration. Even if they are rather slow vehicles, with a maximum speed that does not reach 20 km/h, they have an engine and their circulation can involve risks. Being considered as pedestrians, even in the event of an accident with a vehicle, they are reimbursed as if they were pedestrians.
Road accident with animals
In the event of an accident caused by wild animals, the responsibility must be attributed to the body (Region, Former Province, Park, Federation, etc) to which they are entrusted in their role as administrators of the territory and the fauna present.
The Entity, in order to be relieved of all liability, should demonstrate that they have taken all precautions to prevent third-party exposure to danger.
If the animal causing the accident is domestic, the owner is held responsible, unless the owner can prove that the damage occurred due to a “fortuitous event”.
There is also the reverse possibility, namely that the animal is a victim of an inexperienced or novice driver. In this case, the pet is considered part of the owner’s assets, and thus they can request reimbursement of any veterinary expenses and even of the value of the animal itself.
However, the jurisprudence is not geared towards compensation for non-pecuniary damage, that is to say, moral damages caused by pain for the loss of the beloved animal.
Compensation for damages from road accidents
In property damage there are medical expenses, resulting from the road accident, which includes not only possible damage to tangible assets but also the future reduction of income as a result.
Non-pecuniary damages include personal injuries or “biological damage” as a result of an accident. It may be damage to psycho-physical integrity and/or moral damage (ie the impairment of the mental well-being of the victim).
To calculate the amount of compensation, we rely on medical documentation that evaluates the risk of permanent disability, and in court documentation the monetary value that equates to
How to claim compensation after a traffic accident
To obtain compensation after a traffic accident, the injured party must send the insurance claim for damages by registered letter (with acknowledgement of receipt), certified e-mail (Pec), or by hand delivery. You will need to describe what happened and attach all documentation in your possession, be it CAI forms, photos, medical reports and/or police reports.
If the insured person is not at fault, they can request compensation for damages. From the time the claim is made, the insurance will have 60 days to proceed with the compensation, if only the vehicles were damaged, or 90 days if there were injuries. Once the necessary checks have been made, the insurance agency will decide on the reimbursement procedure and the amount of the reimbursement.
If you are looking for a lawyer because you have been involved in a road accident in Italy, do not hesitate to contact us. Our lawyers are specialists in the field of compensation for damages, and they will find the best solution to help you get what you are entitled to. The damage compensation procedure may appear to be more complicated than it actually is, if you are not well advised. Boccadutri International Law Firm can provide concrete support during all the steps that follow an accident, at both a judicial and extra-judicial level. Contact us here.