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Road accident cases - how to deal with emergencies
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Posted on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 08:42 IST (last updated: Wed, Mar 1, 2017 @ 21:48 IST)
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Recently a friend of mine was involved in quite a serious road accident where his car hit a bike and the rider of the bike sustained serious head injuries. Now causing or at the least, being involved in a serious road accident in which you are not the affected party can attract either civil or criminal liability or both. It's very important that if you're the driver of a car or a bigger vehicle and has caused serious injury or maybe even death to another road-user (and especially to pedestrians or bike riders) on the highway, that you should not try and rush away from the scene of the accident. This creates a very dangerous situation for the driver and owner of the car (or the bigger vehicle involved) and might be taken as a prima-facie evidence or admission of guilt. Hit-and-run is a sure way to attract severe criminal penalty - at least in India. And when the case involves accidental death, it may even attract a maximum of a 2 years imprisonment (with or without fine) if negligence on the part of the driver is proved (Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code - causing death by negligence). Even if there is no fault on the part of the driver, leaving the scene of the accident at the earliest possible moment is a big mistake. To be on the absolute safe side, it's very, very important to follow these simple rules which can minimize liability (if any) and go a long way to ensuring that you're on the safe side of the Law. Accident cases can be very disturbing and being the accused in a criminal proceeding can be very unpleasant and stressful to the person or persons involved.
First always stop
Don't be a hit-and-run driver. It is much worse to face criminal proceedings in hit-and-run cases. If the accident zone is unsafe, pull over at the nearest possible safe area and call the traffic police control room and seek assistance giving the location of the accident.
Stay calm and don't make any admissions
Stay calm in the face of the accident but do not admit to any liability in any manner whatsoever to strangers, even when provoked by by-standers and locals. When pressed, state that if there is any claim your insurance company would take care of the same.
Arrange to take the injured person to a nearby hospital
This is a legal duty! When an accident occurs, don't panic... It is very easy to think about running away and escaping, especially if there are no witnesses. Even without direct witnesses, the police can trace vehicles involved in highway road accidents by the process of elimination - even if it takes a long time. One such way is to get the records of toll collection and police check posts and finding out the registration numbers of which cars passed through around the time and date of the accident in question. It's extremely important that the question of responsibility or guilt should come second if the person involved in the accident is seriously injured and is losing blood. It is common humanity to arrange for emergency medical care to the injured party as quickly as possible to save a life. If it is absolutely impossible to personally attend, a close trusted friend who will take all responsibility on your behalf should be left behind to attend to the injured. Calling a nearby ambulance service is highly recommended.
Note the name, address, vehicle number and contact details of the injured person(s) and their friends/relatives
This is another step to ensure that you are not caught unawares if the police are investigating the accident and you are not denied the chance to put forward your side of the case or defence in time. If you wait for the police to catch up with you before you admit involvement in the accident, it can create a bad impression. Noting the names and addresses of the injured party will at least give you a solid piece of evidence that you HAD cared to stop and attend to the injured if the police do eventually arrive and inquire at your doorstep several weeks after the incident. Keep your temper under control Even if you do stop voluntarily, you might be tempted to leave when it appears that there will be trouble over the event. Especially on highways, the local townsfolk or villagers will gather together in hostile attitude near the scene of the accident. Tempers might flare up for a short duration, but avoid getting caught in a heated verbal altercation or a scuffle with the local populace. Even if there appears that there won't be trouble, never take anything for granted. Particularly, don't trust local persons who tell you to leave the scene of the accident or those who try to act as mediators and take money from you promising to discharge you of liability. Your actions might still be taken as hit-and-run when the police ultimately arrive on the scene. Implicating the absent party is not only possible, but highly probable in such scenarios.
Inform the police of the accident and register a counter-complaint if warranted
If you are not at fault or at least there is a chance that the accident has been caused, in part, by the negligence of the other party, filing a counter-complaint at the local police station near where the accident has taken place as soon as possible will give you a better chance of avoiding criminal liability. Here I'll say one more thing. It's important not to make a deal with the police without getting a written assurance from the other party that they will drop charges if you offer them some kind of monetary compensation. Never take the assurances of the police for granted! In the less serious accidents, compromise is often possible and indeed desirable from everybody's point of view. But compromises should be made in the proper manner and the police should not be given a chance to take advantage of your absence to establish and file charges. Trying to bribe policemen can be a double-edged weapon and very dangerous! Be very careful in such a situation. Inform your lawyers immediately If there is a good chance of getting charged on a criminal offence, it is important to get in touch with a good lawyer as soon as you can and let them know the whole facts of the case. A lawyer can definitely be a help and a support in dealing with the situation and in the worst case scenario, a lawyer will help you wade through the technicalities of criminal proceedings. If there are regular hearings of the case, you might be able to get the court's permission from having to appear in every single hearing. That's about it. Being involved in road accidents is never pleasant and is nearly always stressful and panic-inducing. Following these tips will not be easy or natural, but it will save a lot of trouble in the long run.
Inform your insurance company of the accident
Don't forget to inform your insurance company in writing about the accident immediately upon filing the police complaint so that steps can be taken by them in respect of your own-damage claim (if you have comprehensive cover) and also about third-party liability (which is mandatory by Indian Law). In most accident cases where injury or death of a third-party is involved, your insurance company will incur liability and would most likely opt to settle the claim if there are no legal grounds to deny their liability. Informing your insurance company is vital in accident cases.
Disclaimer: At the time of writing this article I was not a qualified lawyer (still a student of law). At present I am a full-fledged legal professional. Information in this article will be reviewed periodically in the light of knowledge and experience and may be revised for accuracy. It is recommended that first-hand legal advise from a qualified lawyer is always taken in accident cases and not to rely entirely on this article.
In this series
- Why Contempt of Court ought not be diluted or removed
- In favour of retaining criminal defamation laws
- Supreme Court upholds freedom of speech
- The slippery slope of "Justice"
- The concept of preliminary objections in Law
- The Art of being in Two Places at once
- Interpreting Law and its pitfalls
- Drafting legal pleadings - an overview
- The art of drafting contracts
- Two methods of learning in the legal profession
- பாரம்பரிய அறிவும், அறிவுசார் சொத்துரிமைச் சட்டமும்
- வீண் பேச்சால் விபரீதம்
- Law and paperwork go together like bread and butter
- ஒரு வழக்கை நடத்துவதற்கு ஏன் வழக்கறிஞர் தேவை?
- The 3 Ds of the legal profession
- Is occasional swift justice a failure of law?
- Contempt of Court - an overview
- Chemical pollution caused by industries: why they invite heavy sanctions
- Business law - the most boring aspect of law
- Legal ethics: how can a lawyer defend the guilty?
- Criminal jurisprudence and the presumption of innocence
- Is tolerance a legal virtue?
- Road accident cases - how to deal with emergencies
- Blogging in anger and its legal implications
- Common wrong assumptions by amateur internet "lawyers"
- On Legal Opinions
The blog owner has closed further commenting on this entry.
Comment by Shrinidhi Hande (visitor) on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 @ 10:02 IST #
Escaping and not reporting the accident is a tacit admission of guilt. If there is a crowd or threat of immediate physical danger, the driver should report to a police station in any case within 24 hours and explain the circumstances of the accident in writing and the fact that he could not assist the injured because of the danger posed by the crowd. Otherwise the danger of being prosecuted and being convicted of a crime under the IPC is much greater.
Staying silent is not recommmended in any case. If physical presence on the accident site becomes impossible because of circumstances, the driver should take a close, trusted friend and a lawyer and report to the police ASAP. Otherwise it will be recorded as a hit-and-run case.
The big thing here is that being classified as a "hit-and-run" driver is big trouble, especially considering the recent high-profile cases of that nature in India.
Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 @ 10:40 IST #
Comment by Veena (visitor) on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 @ 12:11 IST #
Also you should have informed the police immediately after the accident or very soon of your admitting the other party into the hospital and the agreement of this settlement when you pay them so that it is recorded officially. Don't give the compensation without consulting a lawyer and getting a written statement from the other party.
Regardless, if they complain so late, their case will be weakened considerably especially since you had immediately admitted her in hospital and the records will show that clearly it was not a hit-and-run case, but you should not take any chances in this matter. Keep the hospital records handy so that you can prove that you did admit her into the hospital and not run away.
All my advise is still not enough or sufficient. The best advisor in this situation will be a qualified lawyer.
Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 @ 13:12 IST #
Comment by Veena (visitor) on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 @ 17:00 IST #
Obviously you cannot stop their complaint if they make one, but you will be in a strong position to rebut and disprove their claim.
Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 @ 18:07 IST #
Comment by chase (visitor) on Thu, Oct 1, 2009 @ 22:30 IST #
Comment by rahul (visitor) on Wed, Jan 6, 2010 @ 10:33 IST #
But please consult a good lawyer for advise. A hit-and-run is a serious case and you require professional guidance to navigate through the technicalities.
Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Wed, Jan 6, 2010 @ 17:13 IST #
Comment by Phillip (visitor) on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 @ 11:49 IST #
Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 @ 07:32 IST #
is it now tat the insurance company will pay the amount or am i liable to pay the amount?
pls give me some suggestions...
Comment by lokesh (visitor) on Wed, Jul 21, 2010 @ 16:43 IST #
Have you consulted a lawyer?
Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Wed, Jul 21, 2010 @ 17:26 IST #
Now the person's son lodged a FIR and a criminal case has been registered (279 and 304A) against my wife. We are consulting a lawyer and she has been granted bail. She was driving the car very slow because the lane was too congested. My questions:
1. What's the next step?
2. Is there any out of court settlement possible?
2. What's the proof required to save from jail term?
Comment by Rup (visitor) on Tue, Jan 4, 2011 @ 17:17 IST #
As for jail term, I am not sure. There might be a heavy fine for sure if your wife is convicted and the judge might direct some of the fine to be paid by way of compensation to the victim's family.
Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Wed, Jan 5, 2011 @ 08:16 IST #
Comment by sasosafetysigns (visitor) on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 @ 00:53 IST #
Comment by aman bhatt (visitor) on Sat, Mar 19, 2011 @ 18:32 IST #
Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Sat, Mar 19, 2011 @ 19:30 IST #
on 14.4.2011 an accident happened near my house on the highway. A car was on the way very fast on the highway. suddenly a Bike man crossed from left to right on the highway(where the platform was broken by the village people to pass between the highway). Unfortunately the car hitted the bike when it reaches the middle of the highway. He was thrown and was highly injured and taken to hospital. This was the Big mistake by the Bike man. Police came and wrote something. Actually what will happen next. What will happen to those persons in court? what type of case will be filed against that car driver and bike person?
Its completely insane of the bike driver. Spotted persons said car driver will also have to go through trouble. IS it true? Mostly his car damaged a lot.
what will happen to that car driver?
Comment by E.Daniel (visitor) on Thu, Apr 14, 2011 @ 12:41 IST #
It happened with my friend that while driving in a car on the highway, suddenly a cycle person came in front and got injured , my friend took him to the nearby hospital where doctor done his ( victims) dressing and after observing and waiting for the things to become normal he ( friend) left the place , there is no FIR from both the sides till my friend left just a mutual settlement with some amount among the victims relatives , mob and my friend (my friend is having the mutual settlement letter duly signed by the victim's son), next day my friend got news that the victim got expired while going to the hospital , and the family members did the funeral without FIR and POSTMORTEM , now we just want to know that is it possible for the victims relative or for us TO FILE F.I.R without PRIOR FIR and without POSTMORTEM PRIOR TO FUNERAL , and can we go for INSURRANCE CLAIM and can VICTIM'S RELATIVE ASK FOR A CLAIM FROM INSURANCE COMPANY
Comment by eliza (visitor) on Fri, Feb 10, 2012 @ 19:26 IST #
1. If she survives.
2. If she dies.
Comment by Prasant Banthia (visitor) on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 @ 17:32 IST #
Comment by Vidu (visitor) on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 @ 20:45 IST #
I am closing this comments section.
Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 @ 09:02 IST #