Car Crash Question

August 4th, 2007 · Society · 6 comments

You know, it’s funny — when I came across this article a few weeks ago, I just thought it would be interesting to give readers some insight into traffic laws in Korea, so I just skimmed the headline, liked the picture, and stuck it into my bookmarks. When I pulled it out last night to translate, I was taken aback by the importance the writers attached to the fact that the crash involved a foreign-made car. When you poke around in the Korean media, even just randomly, stuff like this just comes up by itself.

It’s also an insight into the Korean perspective on traffic law — there’s no such thing as a no-fault accident, and the payouts are huge. I’ve been in a couple of crashes in my life, both in Korea. The first case by all rights should have been a spectacular smash-up, but no-one was hurt and I just took another taxi. The second time I was being driven by my co-teacher when we were hit by a man who ran a red light. My co-teacher was assessed as 40% at fault — I suppose they assume the victim could have been going a bit slower, or something — and she was apologetic that I could get only $400 as compensation as a result.

Q. I was in a big accident, the fault of a foreign-made car on the highway. The police investigation found that I, who drive a domestic car, was the victim (30% at fault). But the foreign car driver’s insurance company asked me, the victim, to pay $10,000 for repairs and compensation. I was the victim — do I really have to pay?

A. The fact that traffic accident victims eventually have to pay damages to their victimizers is not easy to understand; however there’s nothing you can do.

In the above situation, the split of responsibility between the domestic car and the foreign car was 30-70. The foreign car’s bill came to $100,000, and as the domestic car’s responsibility was 30% his insurance company should pay $30,000 in damages. But because when that driver first purchased insurance he set up coverage of $20,000 he has to pay $10,000 out of pocket.

Even if the victim was not at all at fault he still has to pay all of the responsible party’s repair costs, but in a two-sided accident where the victim also has a portion of the responsibility then, just as you did, it is unavoidable for the victim to pay compensation to the other. Especially in a low-cost accident with a foreign car there’s no other way than that.

So you can say, “I got damaged from my car being hit by a cheap foreign car” as this isn’t a joke or jest but what I’m telling you is strictly according to the law. Accordingly, as you are the victim, if you don’t intend to be the victim again of the strange circumstance of having to pay the repair bill you’d better pay for more coverage when you join your insurance company.

Normally one does get coverage up to $30,000 but there are many cases where, based on the situation, $50,000 or more must be paid. Accordingly it’s safe to get coverage of $50,000 to $100,000.

Paying just an extra $10-20 a year for higher coverage limit will prevent you from having to shoulder a heavy burden.

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