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What to do in the case of an accident?

When an accident occurs, what should you do?

1. If you are an eye-witness

Help the injured person(s) as appropriate and perform your civic duty by being willing to be a witness.  In the case of hit-and-run, you can help by writing down the license plate number, the car manufacturer (brand), and the color of the car, and contact the police.  Some people may even chase after the driver.  Such act is truly commendable.

2. If you are hit by a car and suffer an injury

Ask someone or a police officer to take you to the hospital as soon as possible.  Legal action can wait, but life must be saved first.  It is a minor injury, a compromise in order not to waste time may be a better solution.  Don’t forget to get the driver’s name and the license plate number of the car that hit you.  You may need it later for legal action to claim for damages in case the driver fails to pay you as promised.

3. If you are the driver

Don’t ever run away if you are the driver.  The accident is caused unintentionally, and the wrongdoer is not a criminal.   The punishment of reckless driving is light, so you should face it.  If you try to escape, you may face 15 years of imprisonment if the person you hit dies from an accident.  If you surrender yourself and accept the consequence, the court may decide that you are not guilty or may reduce the sentence.

Duties of the driver involved in a car accident as prescribed by law:

  • Stop the car and provide reasonable assistance.  If you are the driver of the car that hits a person, you must stop your car, assist the injured person, and send him/her to the hospital if you can.
  • Present yourself and report the accident to a nearby competent officer, i.e., reporting to a nearby police station and providing details of your car.
  • Provide your first name, last name, address, and the car’s license plate number to the damaged party.
  • If the driver tries to escape or fails to present himself/herself to the competent officer, the law will assume that the driver is guilty and a police officer has the right to seize the car until the driver is arrested or the case is final.
  • A driver failing to comply with Items (1), (2), and (3), will be punished with up to one month of imprisonment or a fine up to 2,000 baht.  If the damaged party is seriously injured or loses his/her life, the maximum imprisonment is three months and the maximum fine is 5,000 baht.

4. Contact you insurance company promptly if your car is insured.

The insurance company will send their staff to the scene of accident to draw a map of the place where the accident has occurred to be used in a lawsuit.

5. If you have a camera, take photos of the car and the scene of accident.

These photos can be used as evidence in court proceedings.  If representatives of the Poh Teck Tung  Foundation or Ruamkatanyu Foundation have taken photos of the body or the scene of accident, you could ask for those photos as they may be useful in the lawsuit that follows.

6. Giving assistance to the injured party/Paying the funeral costs

This is a very important matter that most drivers tend not to know of its benefits.  When you are charged with reckless driving, you are considered to have committed both civil and criminal offences.

  • In a criminal case, you may be imprisoned.
  • In a civil case, you are liable to pay for the damage, medical expenses, and the funeral costs of the other party.  That is, you will be imprisoned and also have to pay for the above expenses if someone is injured or killed by an accident.  If you assist the injured person or pay the funeral cots, there are some benefits, for example:
    - If you have taken the injured person to the hospital, when the case is taken to court, you can give a statement about what you have done.  The court may suspend the sentence and you don’t have to go to prison.  However, if you hit and run, the court tends to rule that you be imprisoned.
    - Agreeing to pay damages to the injured partly can also be very useful.  If you refuse to do so, the police will keep the car until an agreement can be reached by the parties involved.  However, if you pay the damages and the funeral costs, the civil case is dismissed.  As it is deemed that the parties have agreed to compromise, claims for damages in a civil case can no longer be made.  If you are the defendant, the damaged party will testify to the court that they have already been compensated for the damage.  In most cases, the court will show mercy by suspending the sentence.