Car Accidents in India – Nothing Like How Americans Handle It!

by Darwin on December 18, 2011

What happens when you’re in an accident in America?  The standard advice is immediately call the police, get the other driver’s information, contact your insurance company and in many cases, look for some sort of settlement and sue after calling your injury lawyers.  I couldn’t help but notice the huge contrast in how accidents are handled in India based on my trip last week (here were my impressions of India from a personal, professional and financial standpoint).  I was traveling with a colleague who spent her first 20 years in India and then moved to the states, but she goes back annually to see her family so she’s quite up to date on life in India.

I was asking about the irony of horrible traffic and crazy driving contrasted with never seeing cars pulled off the side of the road from accidents with police, etc.  She said, “Oh, when there’s an accident, the drivers get out and argue a bit, someone pays the other and off they go”.  I was like, “Seriously?  No police report?  No insurance?  No lawyers?”.  She started laughing.  She said there isn’t really an insurance system like that over there, police don’t get involved in minor accidents and everything is handled via debate and payments, not the way accidents are handled in the US.  She shared a story about an accident she had when she was younger as well.

In essence, she ran her car over a guy on a motorcycle.  She was on her way to get her license ironically.  So, she was kind of freaked out and upset and called her friends on a nearby payphone to bring money to pay the guy.  Her friends showed up with some money, paid him off, he accepted and everyone walked away! (Well, he hobbled apparently).  That was it!  Apparently, the guy was injured pretty badly as well, as people needed to actually lift her car off the poor guy.  Could you imagine that in the US?  I figure that would be at least a 6-figure settlement with the car insurance company, maybe more, depending on whether the person was permanently disabled or out of work for a long period of time due to the extent of injuries and “pain and suffering”, right?  While much of Indian law and society stems from the vestiges of the British empire, you don’t here of no win no fee solicitors and such in India.  It’s where cash is king and people needing to feel like they were made whole and the driver is repentant, as opposed to pursuing years of legal action and huge settlements.  Definitely a different world!

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