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ACCIDENTS

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27 Febrero, 2015

Written by Dr Crespo

This guide do not substitute professional advice, which we will be happy to provide on request.


Introduction
Over 1,000,000 foreigners have a holiday home in Spain. More than 40,000,000 take holidays in Spain each year. Some have accidents. They may be traffic accidents, accidents in bars or hotels, accidents in the street, in swimming pools or in countless other places.

Thousands of foreigners work in Spain. Many more have jobs that take them to Spain on business. They may suffer accidents in the workplace or in the course of their employment.

Most of these people will require medical treatment. Some will not be satisfied with the quality of the treatment received.

All will want to consider making a claim for compensation.

They need specialist advice as the laws and procedures in Spain are very different from those to which they might be accustomed in England and there are strict time limits that, if missed, can prevent the victim making any claim at all.

We can provide that advice and we can make whatever claims may be necessary to protect our clients' interests.

What steps need to be taken?
We normally divide an accident case into two phases - a preliminary report and then if the preliminary report shows that it is worth pursuing the case, the claim itself.

The preliminary report
In all cases we need to:

Establish the facts - what happened and where?
Decide whether the facts give rise to the right to make a claim. Not all accidents do. Some may be your own fault and others may be classified as "acts of God" and so give rise to no claim for compensation.
Make an initial estimate of the amount of compensation that would be likely to be awarded in respect of the accident. Sometimes the claim may be for an amount so small that it would not justify the cost of making a claim.
Try to estimate how long it would be likely to take to deal with a claim and how much it would cost to do so. At this early stage both these estimates will be little more than educated guesses but this information is obviously very important for the client.
Consider how to finance the cost of making a claim. You may be insured - if you travelled on a package holiday you almost certainly will be and it may be that your standard household insurance could cover you - but if you are not there are several possible ways of paying the expenses involved.
Decide whether there is sufficient evidence to prove a case against the person responsible. The mere fact that you suffered an accident is not enough.
If there is not, at the moment, sufficient evidence, can that evidence be obtained? This may involve quite a lot of work.

Advise you as to the results of our enquiries and discuss what further action may be required.
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What sort of accidents give rise to a claim for compensation?
Under Article 1902 of the Spanish Civil Code a person who by his negligence causes damage to another must pay compensation. This covers a wide variety of situations.

By Article 1907 the owner of a building is responsible for damage caused by its disrepair.

By Article 1101 where a contract exists between two people if one of them is negligent in carrying out his obligations he must pay compensation to the other.

These three provisions are the cornerstones of liability.

In addition, a person may have to pay compensation as a result of any criminal offences that may have given rise to the accident.

Examples of situations where compensation may be payable include:

Where I drive carelessly and collide with another vehicle or a pedestrian
Where I fail to keep my house in good repair and, as a result, a person is hit by a falling roof tile
Where I am employed to do repair work on your house and my employee uses machinery carelessly and injures somebody
Where I fail to put a guard around a dangerous hole in the floor and somebody falls into it
There are many others.

How is the compensation calculated?
The Spanish system has guidelines - used in most cases - which state that for particular types of injury or disability a certain sum of money is payable. They are extremely complicated. They vary depending on the personal circumstances of the victim.

In addition to that compensation, the victim can recover some of his direct losses caused by the accident.

What sort of evidence will be needed?
This will vary from case to case.

In order to show who was responsible for the accident we will, probably, not only have to obtain statements from any witnesses but also obtain copies of any police report or other official report prepared as a result of the accident. We may have to request reports from experts. We will often have to obtain photographs or plans of the scene.

In order to show the amount of compensation to which you are entitled we may have to do a variety of things. In general, however, we will have to prove the direct losses suffered as a result of the accident. We will need to show how much time the victim was off work and how much money he lost as a result. We will need to obtain medical evidence as to any injuries suffered, the present medical condition and the likely long term consequences of the injuries. We may need to arrange for a specialist photographer to take photographs of any scarring or other visible signs of the injuries. Sometimes it will be necessary to arrange for a medical examination by a doctor appointed by the courts.

We will obtain all of the necessary information and then arrange for it to be translated into Spanish. Some documents may need to be officially authenticated for use in Spain. We arrange for this. We then send the documents to our Spanish colleagues by courier.

How much compensation would I receive?
This obviously depends entirely on the circumstances of your case.

What does all of this cost?
Bringing a court case in a foreign country is never cheap. A typical, fairly straightforward, case may cost about £2,000

You may have insurance to cover the cost. If you travelled on a package holiday you almost certainly will. We can check to see whether you were insured and advise you accordingly.

If you were not insured it is normally necessary to find about half the total cost "up front" with the rest being payable as the case progresses.

In certain cases work can be undertaken on a "no win, no fee" basis.

If the case actually goes to court the judge may order that the person responsible for the accident should pay part of your legal expenses. He will certainly not have to pay them all.

What are the time limits you have referred to?
To deal with a road traffic accident via criminal proceedings action must be taken within 6 months.

To make any other claim for compensation the claim must normally be lodged within 1 year of the date of the accident. This period can usually be extended. Certain events extend the period automatically, so if the period has already passed then it is worth making a check to see whether a claim can still be made.

In any case, it is important to start the claim as soon as possible as there is a lot of work to do before it can be lodged.

What do I do next?
If you would like further advice, please telephone, fax or Email us.

We can then have a brief discussion over the telephone and, if necessary, make an appointment so that we can meet to look at the matter in more detail.

We are used to acting for Clients from all over the world and, generally, find that it is not necessary to meet in order to deal with an accident in Spain. Of course, we are delighted to meet to discuss matters personally if that is convenient for you.

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You can contact us on the telephone numbers:
+34 96 574 02 20

send a fax to our fax number:
+34 96 574 02 99

or send an e-mail to us to:
info@drcrespo.com
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