Road Traffic Accidents in Germany
Traffic accident on German roads? Find out who to call and how to fill in the accident report after a car crash...
All vehicles in Germany must have at least third party insurance (Autohaftpflichtversicherung or Pflichtversicherung).
The procedure in the event of a road traffic accident in Germany depends on the severity of the accident, whether there are injuries, property damaged and if it is necessary for the police to be involved.
In the event of a minor accident
Minor accidents do not necessarily have to be reported to the police, but it is recommended if liability is disputed. The police can provide an official accident report (Unfallbericht), although this may take time. An alternative is to call one of several hotlines for German insurers. It is then officially registered that an accident has occurred and the relevant insurance companies are informed.
- Free Emergency Hotline of German Insurers (Notruf der Autoversicherer)
Tel: 0800 NOTFON D (use the letter keys on a mobile)
Tel: 0800 668 3663
- Central Hotline for Car Insurers (Zentralruf der Autoversicherer)
Tel: 0180 250 26
In the event of a serious accident
If there have been injuries or fatalities call for the police and ambulance:
- Police Tel: 110
- Ambulance or Fire Tel: 112
The police should also be called if:
- Foul play is suspected (road rage or provocation)
- A person directly involved in the accident flees the scene
- Liability for the accident is in dispute
- A driver is suspected of drink-driving or driving under the influence of drugs
At the scene of the accident
- Stop immediately – this applies to all those involved. Fleeing the scene of an accident is punishable by law
- If a person is injured, first aid (erste Hilfe) must be given and an ambulance (Rettungswagen Tel: 112) must be called. By law, a first aid kit (Pkw-Verbandkasten) must be carried in the vehicle
- Secure the scene of the accident and make sure that all vehicles involved are left in place until the police (Polizei) arrive
- Switch on the vehicle hazard warning lights and place the reflective warning triangle 100m (or 200m on a motorway) from the scene to warn approaching traffic
- If no mobile phone is available then call from one of the SOS telephones which are usually located every 1.5-3 Km along the roadside, and are marked by arrows on white posts in the direction of the next nearest call box
- All drivers involved must exchange registration numbers, names and addresses and insurance details
- If insurance details are unknown/cannot be produced call the emergency hotline of German insurers (Notruf der Autoversicherer) giving the vehicle registration number
- Take the licence plate number and contact details of all vehicles and witnesses involved (this could be vital if the case goes to court)
- Accidental damage to stationary vehicles where the owner is not present must be reported to the police
Note: First aid is a statutory part of the German driving licence. The German Red Cross (Deutsches Rotes Kreuz) has information on first aid courses held throughout Germany.
Reflective waistcoats (reflektierende Unfallweste) are not yet compulsory in Germany.
The accident report form/agreed statement of facts (Unfallbericht)
In the event of a minor accident, with no injuries, all parties involved must exchange details and make a declaration of events. This will form the accident report (Unfallbericht), submitted to the respective insurance companies. There is a standard, Europe-wide European Accident Report form which is available in English from most insurers and can be used to document the details of an accident; copies should be submitted to all insurers involved.
Under German law, claims for accidental damage are made by each driver on the other driver's insurance. If liability for the accident is in dispute or if the document is not fully understood, do not sign at the scene of the accident. This is vital as the Unfallbericht is a source of evidence if the case goes to court.
The report should include:
- Date and time of the accident
- Full names and addresses of all parties involved
- Contact details of any witnesses
- Confirmation of injuries
- Insurance (and, if applicable, green card) details
- An illustration and explanation of the accident including details of damage caused
- If possible, photos of the scene to assist the insurance companies in apportioning liability
- The signature of all drivers involved in the accident
- A sample accident report can be downloaded here (PDF in German and English)
Scrapping a Car
- For information on scrapping a vehicle that cannot be repaired after an accident see the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit, BMU)
The Association for Helping Accident Victims (Verein Verkehrsopferhilfe) can help in the case of a dispute. It can also help if a driver involved in an accident flees the scene.
The innocent driver in an accident may seek legal advice and have the costs covered by the other driver's insurance.
- To find a lawyer specialising in traffic issues: Click here
- The German Lawyer Hotline gives legal advice over the telephone
Tel: 0900 1 875 000 10
- ADAC - hotline for roadside assistance, breakdown recovery
Tel: 0180 222 2222
- The German Lawyer Hotline gives legal advice over the phone
Tel: 0900 1 875 000 10 (premium rate number)