October 1, 2014
Have you been involved in a traffic accident as a passenger? Have you been injured in a car you were not driving? If you happen to find yourself in this situation, Lexland Lawyers offers you the necessary legal advice in order to inform you of the rights that assist you as an injured party. Please note that injured passengers of vehicles involved in an accident always have the right to compensation and it is your Lawyer who will be in charge of claiming it from the insurance company that is found liable.
Let’s imagine the following scenario: you are travelling as a passenger in a car that is involved in a traffic accident and you are injured as a consequence of it. In this case and providing you prove that your injuries were caused in the accident, you always have the right to compensation as an injured party.
In the aforementioned situation and since the law provides that the injured passenger must always be compensated by the corresponding insurance company, you must take into account that the statute of limitations is of six months if you are to present a denounce before the Criminal Court and one year if you are to file a lawsuit before the civil jurisdiction.
Either way, it is usual for the Court of Instruction on duty to commence preliminary proceedings against the opposing driver and his insurance company further to a complaint filed by the Lawyer of the injured party claiming compensation for his injuries.
In this case, a minor offence trial will determine the liability of the denounced driver and will issue a ruling by means of which the Court determines the compensation to be satisfied by the insurance company. Another scenario would be that the Judge issues a ruling by means of which the denounced parties are not held liable and are therefore acquitted on the grounds that the reported driver has not caused the accident. In the latter case, the court shall issue an order named “auto de responsabilidad maxima” which entitles the injured party to compensation. This order may be enforced before the civil jurisdiction pursuant to Article 17 of Royal Decree 8 /2004 on civil liability and insurance of motor vehicles and Article 517.8 of the Code of Civil Procedure. In this case, the injured party may choose between enforcing the “auto de responsabilidad maxima” or suing for tort against the driver that the criminal proceedings have proved as the person liable for causing the accident but whose liability has not been determined since he was not initially denounced in those proceedings.
In the event that we find ourselves in this case, the shortest route would be to enforce this “auto de responsabilidad maxima” before the civil jurisdiction. The peculiarity of this process is that, as the Judge of Instruction has issued it without determining who the author responsible for the injuries is, the insurance company may oppose to the enforcement (and thus paralyse it) claiming exclusive fault from the victim or force majeur, as well as the general opposition causes laid down in Article 557 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that although the Law provides certain mechanisms to interrupt the enforcement of a ruling, a different matter is that the Court actually accepts these. The insurer against who the enforcement proceedings are followed is liable for the injuries suffered by the passenger of the vehicle pursuant to the “auto de responsabilidad maxima” and, therefore, the insurance company must pay the compensation the injured party is entitled to independently of whether it wishes to claim the amounts paid to the injured party from the driver who is found liable. We may find rulings in this sense from the Provincial Court of Madrid (auto 30th November 2003), Cadiz (auto 1st February 2005) and Sevilla (auto 14th May 2008).
As a summary, we must always bear in mind that the party against which the “auto de cuantia maxima” is enforced may not submit any cause of opposition in the enforcement proceedings against the injured passenger of a vehicle involved in a traffic accident. The insurance company must pay the compensation the Court considers the injured party is entitled to and may claim these amounts from the insurance company of the driver who is found liable for the accident.