Read in the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial of the past day 9/12/2017 and whose interest advises us to reproduce it
The decriminalization of traffic accidents, which suppressed the lack of trials in mid-2015, has led to an alarming decrease in judicial claims. The data reveal that in the last two years the criminal matters of the Spanish courts (where complaints were previously dealt with on road safety issues) have dropped from 6.1 million in 2014 to 3.3 million in 2016, almost three million of less-serious matters. The key is in the reform that the Government urged to modify the Criminal Code, materialized in the Organic Law 1/2015, of March 30, which came into force in July 2015 but began to be applied in September.
This reform decriminalized traffic accidents, forcing all victims to sue insurers by civil means, which has some expenses, compared to the previous system, which was criminal and without expenses. Although the Council of Judicial Power does not break down the cause of judicial affairs, its statistics show a disturbing trend. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 the criminal matters that entered the Spanish courts exceeded six million each year. “A high percentage of these issues were related to road safety incidents,” say legal sources.
In 2015, the reform arrived. Although it only began to be applied in the last four months of the year, criminal matters have already decreased, to 5.8 million. The great change was experienced in 2016, when it was no longer possible to resort to criminal proceedings. These issues fell to 3.3 million, a 45% decrease compared to 2014. The data also reveal that the reform of the Criminal Code has not led to a transfer of criminal matters to civilians. In 2014, 1.84 million of these cases were entered in the Spanish courts, a figure that rose to 1.97 million in 2015 and dropped to 1.86 million in 2016.
“Decriminalizing traffic accidents should have increased the claims in the civil route, but this has not occurred. Why? Because the criminal route was free and the civil route carries a cost that causes many of those affected to renounce go to a court “, This has had another consequence.” The insurance sector has gotten away with it, there are fewer cases and therefore pay less compensation, their benefits go up.”
And in 2015 there was also another important legislative change. Law 35/2015, of September 22, modified the scale of compensations received by traffic victims. A new scale that came into force on January 1, 2016, although it improved the compensation of fatalities and the most serious ones, it decreased those of minor injuries, the great majority. Thus, one day of sick leave went from paying 58 to 52 euros a day. The employers of the sector, Unespa, still has no data for the year 2016, so it is not possible to see if these two legal reforms have caused a decrease in the compensation they have paid for traffic accidents.
What the UNESPA data does reveal is that the number of insured cars has grown and the traffic incidents that may lead to a judicial process have remained stable. In 2014 there were 553,600 parts of injuries and 2.56 million parts with material damages, figures that in 2015 went to 567,000 and 2.49 million respectively. That is to say, there has been no decrease in road activity that could have caused a 45% drop in judicial proceedings.
Article 7 of Law 35/2015, the new scale, which regulates the motivated offer claim. A procedure that requires everyone affected by a traffic accident who wants to receive compensation from their insurer to present their motivated offer to their company. It is the victim who must present medical parts, proof of the vehicle settlement invoices, a private expert report and a copy of the police report. Everything is paid by the victim. Insurance has three months to respond. If the victim does not agree, then go to the court, where new costs are added.
These costs (notary, attorney, expert witness, lawyer, the risk of sentencing costs …) causes more and more victims to desist from filing for civil action in order to receive compensation from the insurer, when before the fault judgment was free. “Now, you can go to the criminal court if a neighbor insults you, but if you accidentally run over it in a pedestrian crossing you can not do it, you have to go civil”, what changes included the reform of the Penal Code ?
The offenses and all the procedures that are not considered crimes are decriminalized and have become administrative infractions or have been redirected to the civil jurisdiction. For example, one vehicle hits another from behind. The driver of the latter suffers minor injuries. Before a criminal complaint could be filed, which except serious negligence of the other driver, and was processed as a misdemeanor trial. Now this case has gone to a civil court, without a criminal conviction but the payment of a liability for damages.
However, there are still some injuries caused by traffic accidents that continue to be penalized, that is to say that they continue to be processed by the criminal jurisdiction, either as a misdemeanor (serious injuries due to light negligence), or as a crime of serious recklessness with milder injuries. For example, driving at 120 kilometers per hour on a road limited to 50. In its latest report (2016 presented in 2017), the State Prosecutor General’s Office described as “alarming” how this reform of the Code has been understood in the courts Criminal on road safety.
The Prosecutor’s Office describes as “alarming” how the reform of the Criminal Code has been understood in the courts, with a “devaluation” of the criminal response.
“In the not particularly serious injuries has been laid by the courts to the issuance of archives – even when there are signs of serious imprudence as in pedestrian abuses, or the indiscriminate issuance of resolutions of dismissal without a minimum instruction to clarify The seriousness of the imprudence or the existence of injurious results are practically non-existent: the direct initiation of proceedings for minor offenses of less serious imprudence, with the risk of devaluing the criminal response to road accidents and protection of the victims, in a misunderstood scope of the reform, reaching the point that in some provinces has not come to hold a trial for a misdemeanor in matters of less serious recklessness in the field of road accidents “. In criminal matters, open proceedings have also fallen. Of the 108,843 that were in 2014, it went to 98,203 in 2016.