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Traffic Accidents and Compensation in the TRNC

Traffic Accidents and Compensation in the TRNC

A traffic accident is defined as an incident that results in death, injury and both material and non-material damages which are directly or indirectly caused by one or more vehicles traveling on the road. The legal basis referred to in evaluating the situation related to the traffic accidents include Chapter154 Criminal Law and Motor Vehicles Road and Traffic Law No.21/1974 and Chapter 148 Civil Wrongs Law in relation to compensation. If the person driving the vehicle drives an uninsured vehicle, Chapter 333 Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance) Law comes into play.

Traffic accidents can be brought before the Court either as a compensation case (civil case) or as a criminal case. If another person or persons have been damaged as a result of a traffic accident that occurred because of the act or negligence of a person or persons, the person or persons involved in such act or negligence are liable to compensate the damage to the extent that they contributed to the occurrence of it. This can only be achieved through an action for damages against the person or persons who committed the act or omission that resulted in damage. In addition, and from a criminal standpoint, if the traffic accident occurred because of one or more crimes committed under the legislations, the people who committed such crime or crimes should be punished within the framework of the law. Therefore, the principles related to both types of cases (civil and criminal) are important.

Under compensation (civil) cases, the types of damages that can be claimed in traffic accidents arising from fault and negligence are divided into two. These are namely special damages and general damages. Special damages are the computable financial damages of the injured party until the date of the hearing. For example, if a medical operation took place as a result of a traffic accident and the aggrieved party has covered the cost of this operation or the damage done to the vehicle involved in the accident or such calculable damages can be claimed from the party at fault. It is essential that evidential documents of such financial damages are kept in order to be able to successfully prove them in court in the future. General damages, on the other hand, are damages that cannot be calculated concretely and the amount to be awarded will be at the discretion of the court. Compensation to be paid due to the pain and suffering of the aggrieved party as a result of the traffic accident and loss of future earnings are some examples of general damages. The basic principle of compensation law is that the purpose is to restore the aggrieved party to the position to which as if the accident had never occurred (restitutio ad integrum).

According to article 58 of Chapter 148, Civil Wrongs Law, if a traffic accident results in death, the deceased person's husband, wife, parents and child, who are responsible for the act that caused the death, can claim compensation. The lawsuit may be lodged by the executor of the deceased person's will, the administrator of the estate of the deceased or the heirs in their own names. The term ‘children’ in the relevant law refers to stepchildren, illegitimate children, adopted children and grandchildren, whereas the term ‘mother and father’ refers stepmother and father, grandmother, and grandfather. Such a case must be brought within 12 months from the date of death at the latest.

If the party causing the accident has committed a crime, the type of criminal cases that can be brought include: driving a motor vehicle at a speed that may endanger human life or inflict damage to a person or property in accordance under Article 6, driving a motor vehicle hastily and in a such a manner that poses danger to the public under Article 7, careless driving in accordance with Article 8, driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances in accordance with Article 9, and driving under the influence of fatigue in accordance with Article 10 of the Motor Vehicles Road and Traffic Law No. 21/1974. The list of crimes is not limited to the ones listed above and there are many types of crimes under the relevant legislation.

Apart from and in addition to the above, a criminal case may be brought with the allegation of committing “Causing Death by Want of Precaution and Carelessness” under Article 210(2) of Chapter 154, Criminal Code. According to the relevant article, a crime is committed if anyone causes the death of another person unintentionally and because of a hasty and careless act that does not constitute recklessness or gross negligence and if this is committed by a vehicle driver or if it occurs in traffic in any way. If convicted, those who commit this crime may be fined up to 50 times the gross minimum wage in force at the time the crime was committed, or imprisoned for up to 7 years, or both. In addition to the penalties specified, the court can also prevent the driver of the vehicle from holding a driving license for a certain period or indefinitely.

The person involved in the investigation or prosecution of such an offense shall be brought before the Court within 5 days at the latest and the person's license may be confiscated by the Court until the case is finalised.

Also, in a traffic accident which results in death, a case under Article 205 of Chapter 154, Criminal Code, may be brought with the allegation manslaughter. Such a person if found guilty, will be liable of felony and may imprisoned for life.

The Supreme Court laid down the principles of the type of punishment to be given in cases of fatal traffic accidents and the factors to be considered when making a decision. It expressed that the following will be taken into consideration: the severity and seriousness of crimes, how the accident occurred and its consequences, whether there are more than one person who lost their lives, whether the driver was under the influence of alcohol, the rate of inattentiveness of the accused in the accident and whether the driver was driving fast, whether he/she tried to pass the vehicle in front in a place where vision was limited and whether he/she blocked the way of the vehicle in the opposite lane, whether he/she caused the accident due to severe violation of traffic rules and regulations, whether the accident occurred due to a momentary inattentiveness, attributable fault of the accused and the deceased, the criminal record of the accused (especially regarding traffic violations) and the personal, private and family status of the accused.

If the accused is convicted, he/she has the right to appeal the conviction and the sentence. The prosecution also has the right to file an appeal with the allegation that the conviction should have been given or the sentence is insufficient.

  • Gürkan&Gürkan
  • February 2023