DUBAI: Families of road crash victims are entitled to get compensation from the insurer of the vehicle involved, but only after the Dubai Traffic Court issues a verdict based on Prosecution evidence, according to insurance and legal experts.
Responding to queries by Gulf News in the wake of last Thursday’s bus accident which left 17 dead in Dubai, Prem A. Mulani, executive director, Pioneer Insurance Brokers, said: “As per UAE law, all buses carry insurance for their passengers. In the event of an accident, this insurance will typically be triggered for claims.”
He said in the case of death, the family of a victim is entitled to "diya" — or blood money — of Dh200,000.
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“The family member has to submit a court judgement report along with the proof of relationship with the deceased to the insurer in order to get the compensation,” he said.
Emirati lawyer Ali Musabah, owner of Ali Musabah Advocate and Legal Consultants, said prosecution needs to have the traffic engineering report of the accident to know who is responsible for the accident before referring the driver to the Traffic Court with charges of wrongly causing death to the passengers.
“The court will decide whether it’s the driver's full mistake or there are other elements. If the court finds the driver guilty, then families of the victims can launch a civil case for compensation,” said Musabah.
He added: “The company which has insured the bus will pay the compensation — whether it is blood money or other compensation — as sometimes families of the victims want more money,” Musabah said.
He said the traffic engineering report is the most important piece of ducmentation in the case as it determines who caused the accident.
“Sometimes the report can be in favour of the driver if it proves there is a problem in the vehicle and the accident was not his mistake.”
Vinod Varma, an advocate at Lavino’s Legal & Management Consultancy, said, “Sometimes, if contributory negligence on the part of the victim is established, the court deducts a fee and depending on the extent of negligence, the diya money that is to be awarded to the family is reduced. It can come down to Dh100,000 in some exceptional cases.”
He said once the Traffic Court procedures are complete, the insurance company deposits the diya money in the court. “Victims’ families can then lay claim to money after establishing the legal heirs.”
Mulani said cases involving death are usually straightforward as insurers to abide by the police report.
“However, when there is a court case involved in the event of an injury, it will be a drawn-out affair,” he said.
Pointing out that the award in such scenarios could potentially be unlimited, he said, “It comes down to the judgement of the court and how much it ascertains as settlement. The nature of the injury and a host of other factors come into play here.”
He said, “Even if a vehicle has a third party insurance instead of a comprehensive cover, the passengers still have to be covered.”
But what if a vehicle’s insurance has lapsed or is not insured when an accident takes place?
“This is a different kettle of fish as it can lead to a criminal case. The law is very clear cut and all controls are in place to make sure passengers are protected,” said Mulani.
He added that even vehicles coming from other countries have to be comply with the UAE law when they are in the country.