Traffic accident victims
What can I do if I or a loved one is involved in a traffic accident? And who bears the various costs caused by the accident?
- Traffic Violation Investigation Procedure
When the police are called for a traffic accident, they initiate an investigation procedure for violation of traffic rules, record the facts, conduct interrogations and take photos of the damaged vehicles / the scene of the accident. Clarification of the question of liability is then carried out by the competent judicial authority (public ministry, prefecture, etc.). This is a procedure between the State and the author of the accident. As a rule, the victim does not receive any information about this procedure.
- Criminal Proceedings for Bodily Injury (Criminal Treatment)
In the event of an accident involving bodily injury, the injured person may file an initiating indictment with the police within three months of the traffic accident. This indictment has no influence on the assessment of traffic offenses as well as on civil claims for damages. In the event of serious bodily injury, or even death, such criminal proceedings are instituted ex officio and consequently, no indictment instituting proceedings is necessary for the facts to be the subject of an investigation.
- The costs. Who bears what costs and how to claim them?
has) Medical fees: This means the costs incurred for the medical treatment of a person (eg medical treatment, hospitalization, physiotherapy). Such costs are insured following a traffic accident. If you receive an invoice for your treatment, you must send it to your own accident insurance.
b) Loss of wages or loss of income must be covered by the motor vehicle liability insurance of the opposing party (daily accident benefits are only 80% of salary, for example) if the loss of salary or income is due to the accident.
vs) Repair (pretium doloris): Injured people often wonder if they are entitled to a pretium doloris. This is not systematically due, and must in particular be considered when
» the accident caused lasting bodily and moral harm
» the accident is the cause of a lasting restriction (professional or private)
» the healing process took a very long time or was particularly painful
d) Other damages and costs incurred by the accident and which cannot be settled through the accident insurance must be claimed from the motor vehicle liability insurance of the author of the accident. These are mainly the following costs:
» damaged vehicle
» other damaged items, e.g. damaged clothing/equipment
» costs/inconvenience caused in an extraordinary way (e.g. travel costs in connection with therapies prescribed by the doctor, etc.)
» household harm
» Residual costs for glasses, cures, not covered by accident insurance
- Damage caused
Any claim must be declared to the civil liability insurance for motor vehicles of the author of the accident. Medical costs (see below) must be reported to the own accident insurance in advance. Please consider that the policy does not take responsibility for the settlement of the claim. If criminal proceedings/denunciation proceedings are opened against the author of the accident, the accident victims can take part in them and assert their claims (claims for damages and pretium doloris) as a party civil. However, it is not imperative to initiate criminal proceedings to settle the claim successfully. If the perpetrator of the accident is convicted, this will nevertheless simplify the claim and recognition of rights.
- Accident insurance
In Switzerland, accident insurance is compulsory. It is required to advance the benefits, ie your accident insurance must assume the medical costs. The accident insurance will subsequently request the reimbursement of the costs incurred from the author of the accident and from his motor vehicle liability insurance.
Have accident insurance:
a) From eight hours of work per week, employees are also insured against a non-occupational accident. Employers must inform their staff of the exact procedure. This accident insurance also pays daily compensation for lost wages.
b) Recipients of unemployment benefits are automatically insured against accidents with SUVA. Please contact your unemployment fund so that it can declare the accident. Ask your unemployment fund if the accident leads to a loss of earnings.
c) People who are not gainfully employed (eg children, school children, students, pensioners or housewives and self-employed) are either covered by private accident insurance or by their compulsory health insurance fund. If you are insured against accidents through the health insurance fund, the medical costs are not fully covered. You must therefore pay the usual deductibles, but can however request their reimbursement from the civil liability insurance of the author of the accident.
Please consider that, as a rule, all costs that the motor vehicle liability insurance has to reimburse are justified. Please keep all supporting documents.
What deadlines must be respected?
Please respect the following deadlines valid from the date of the accident
- 3 months / introductory indictment (e.g. negligent bodily injury litigation)
- 2 years / claims for damages or moral compensation arising from accidents with motor vehicles, cycles and mopeds
- 3 years / damages and pretium doloris arising from accidents with motor vehicles, cycles and mopeds (valid for accidents that have occurred since 1er January 2019)