In this article, we are going to examine TRAFFIC ACCIDENT REPORT AND APPEAL PROCESS.
The accident report is an official document used in road traffic accidents, containing details of the incident, information about the vehicles involved, and statements from witnesses. How and by whom the accident report is prepared depends on the circumstances of the accident. Accident reports require different conditions for their completion, depending on whether the accident results in material damage or death/injury. The relevant regulations can be found in the Highway Traffic Law (Karayolları Trafik Kanunu) [Law No.: 2918], the Highway Traffic Regulations (Karayolları Trafik Yönetmeliği), and the Circular on Accident Report Forms for Traffic Accidents Resulting in Material Damage Only. There are different forms of accident reports, such as those for accidents resulting in material damage and those resulting in death/injury.
Preparation of Accident Report for Material Damage by Drivers
In cases where only material damage occurs, drivers involved in the accident can mutually agree to prepare a “Material Damage Traffic Accident Report” without waiting for authorities. They can sign the report together and leave the scene. Parties who have made such an agreement and subsequently left the scene are deemed to have accepted that the damage incurred will be covered by insurance or borne directly by themselves, and they cannot later request the preparation of an accident report by authorities.
Where are Material Damage Traffic Accident Reports Prepared by Drivers?
In cases where the parties have reached an agreement, to avoid causing another traffic accident and to keep the traffic flow undisturbed, the vehicles involved in the accident are moved off the roadway if possible, and the Material Damage Traffic Accident Report is prepared at that location.
Points to Consider in Material Damage Accidents Prepared by Drivers
In the event of a material damage accident, if there is no agreement between the drivers involved, or if the accident results in death or injury, drivers should not leave the scene without permission from the authorities unless absolutely necessary. They should not alter the situation at the accident scene, including evidence and traces that would be useful in determining liability, if the accident does not affect the safety of traffic, life, and property. Otherwise, the driver will be liable to prosecution and fines [Highway Traffic Law (Karayolları Trafik Kanunu) [Article 81/3]].
Another crucial point for drivers is to ensure that, in cases where they agree to prepare the report among themselves for material damage accidents, the report must be accurately completed. Falsifying an official document like the accident report may lead to charges of forgery [Turkish Penal Code (Türk Ceza Kanunu) [Article 207/1]) and committing fraud by aiming to receive insurance benefits [Turkish Penal Code (Türk Ceza Kanunu) [Article 158/1-k], resulting in criminal penalties. Courts have ruled in several cases that false reporting in the accident report constitutes these offenses, leading to the imposition of criminal sanctions on individuals.
Accident Reports to be Prepared by Traffic Police
According to relevant regulations, if certain conditions arise, accident reports must be prepared by traffic police or, in the absence or insufficiency of traffic police, by general law enforcement. These conditions are outlined in Highway Traffic Regulations (Karayolları Trafik Yönetmeliği) [Article 152(ç)] and [Article 156], including situations where:
- An accident involves a vehicle (in the case of a unilateral material damage accident).
- Any party does not have a driver’s license, or the license is insufficient for the type of vehicle used.
- None of the vehicles involved has valid compulsory motor third-party liability insurance in our country.
- There is suspicion that any driver involved has consumed alcohol, drugs, or stimulants.
- Any of the vehicles involved belongs to a public institution or organization (except for ambulances and emergency health vehicles belonging to the Ministry of Health).
- The accident causes damage to public property or property belonging to third parties.
- The accident results in death and/or injury.
In case one or more of these conditions are met, the accident report must be prepared by traffic police.
Appeal Process for Material Damage Accident Reports
After material damage accident reports are completed, the parties involved can apply to their insurance companies within five days with the mandatory motor third-party liability insurance (MTPL) or comprehensive insurance policies of their vehicles, along with the report and other documents and evidence related to the accident. Once the process is initiated, insurance companies and the Insurance Information and Supervision Center (SBM) move on to the stage of evaluating liability and fault, and calculating responsibility ratios. After reaching an agreement on the ratios, the appeals stage begins for the insured parties.
In case the determined fault ratios are deemed incorrect due to an assertion that the accident report is inaccurate, and the calculations are wrong, insured parties can appeal within five days with supporting documents through insurance companies or the Insurance Information and Supervision Center. If the five-day appeal period is not utilized or the appeal is not successful, legal proceedings must be initiated to resolve the appeals.
Appeal Process for Accident Reports Prepared by Traffic Police
There is no specific regulation in current laws or regulations regarding the appeal process for traffic accident reports prepared by traffic police. Therefore, initiating legal proceedings is required to pursue the appeal process. In this regard, the decision of the Dispute Resolution Court in a similar case being heard in the judicial and administrative branches is crucial. In the decision dated 25/06/2018, with the file number 2018/375 Esas and the decision number 2018/435, the court emphasized that the traffic accident report, being a document to resolve legal disputes between parties involved in the accident, does not have administrative status and cannot be dealt with in administrative courts. Therefore, it designated the judicial branch, specifically the Peace Criminal Judgeship involved in the case, as competent for cases related to fatal/injury material damage accident reports.
Unfortunately, traffic accidents are common occurrences, imposing heavy obligations in terms of both material and moral aspects. Consequently, to avoid loss of rights, it is essential to closely monitor the process and ensure the implementation of procedures after traffic accidents. Progressing through the process with the guidance of a specialized attorney will prevent the occurrence of results that are difficult or impossible to reverse, ensuring that rights are not lost.
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