My Thai Road Accident Experience
I had my first smack, Thai style, in Krabi in June last year. I was hit in the side (driving a rented Honda Jazz) by a pair of numptys on a Honda Wave.
I was making a legitimate right-hand turn, with them well over 80 metres behind me when I checked before turning. I watched in almost slow motion as the bike literally tracked me like an anti-ship missile as I turned! God knows what was going through their heads, ya ba I think. The rider was talking to the passenger, for a good time he was facing away from his direction of travel. I was 100% over the centreline when hit! But for the speed, I thought it could be a deliberate compensation setup. Why didn’t he go down my inside as thousands have done previously all over Thailand ? Not looking that’s why.
Cops were called, and the passenger now does a runner! This despite his head making a dent in the top door frame. WHY? A good assumption is that he must have been on drugs, or carrying / dealing! Neither were wearing helmets, hardly serious enough to warrant doing a runner.
I was expecting the little turd to turn up at the cop shop later – having either “come down” or emptied his pockets of the pills etc. There was money to be made from whitey here, so I suspect drugs, and the severe sentences there made him do a runner.
The rider was bleeding from his mouth, but not too badly. A helmet may have prevented this. He was taken to hospital. I went to the nick.
I was told I had made an illegal U-turn! Balls! of course the native "witnesses" all told a pack of lies.
Once numpty returned from the hospital the real shit started. Whilst waiting for him I had called both the rental company and the insurance company and the agent was only a few minutes away.
The rider's hospital bill came to only 1,900 baht, but he claimed to need to see a dentist on a DAILY basis, for the next 2 weeks, loss of earnings of B500 per day (500 baht as a labourer, my arse) for 1 month! This turned out to be shit, as I photocopied ALL the documents and my girlfriend translated for me. The hospital note actually said 48 hours off work and there was no mention of dentist's visits for 2 weeks!
Despite speaking a fair amount of Thai, I played the dumb tourist, I learned a lot that way. My passport was new with only one stamp in it which helped my dumb tourist act.
My passport was returned to me, but they kept my UK licence. This tells me that they may have no right to detain me (I didn't surrender my IDP as they never asked for it.)
By 4 PM, some 3 hours after the accident we now have the vastly inflated claim from the rider – 50,000 baht! I obviously refuse, telling the coppers that I had class 1 insurance and that should cover all legitimate claims. I asked if I was under arrest. The answer was no so I returned to the hotel.
At all times I was seriously thinking of doing a runner back to UK. I would explain my license as simply lost when applying for a new one in UK.
I called the Embassy in Bangkok who confirmed my suspicion that the "compensation" looked like it was really for the coppers, the rider getting a couple of thousand if he were lucky. They explained that there are several courses of action.
1. A court hearing. I was going to insist on this, until advised that even if I won, Thai judges never award costs to foreigners in road accidents. My costs were, by my calculation, going to be much greater than 50,000 baht given the 2 – 3 month wait, visa expiry etc.) Not too sure if there's a scam here too! Forcing me to pay up.
2. A phone call from UK embassy to the copper in charge. Usually this has one of two results – firstly the claim is dropped, or hugely reduced. The second outcome is that copper loses his rag, arrests the victim of the extortion on a trumped up charge, and now bail is needed!
3. Don't mess about, get a lawyer. I decide on this one, but will wait and see what happens with the threat of a lawyer. I keep the emails and phone numbers of some the girlfriend has found online.
I am summonsed to the nick on days 2 and 3, and still refuse to pay, adding now that I have a lawyer flying down from Bangkok in the afternoon / evening of June 6.
Morning of 6 June, my mobile rings at 8 AM. It's the Police captain asking if can I go to the Muang Krabi nick and pay a 500 baht fine and an admin fee of 700 baht! The rider (read cops) has strangely dropped his claim with the impending arrival of the lawyer (what lawyer, I wasn't going to call one until later that morning I drive to the nick, pay the fine, the "paperwork charge" and a 500 baht contribution to the annual policeman's ball!
Looking back, I think I handled it reasonably well. I didn't visibly lose my temper at any time and insisted on being able to copy all relevant paperwork. I was surprised however that the insurance rep did only offer the guy what he had been billed. I thought he may have added 2,000 – 3,000 baht to smooth the waves, so to speak. The coppers pissed me off, the level of aggression increased markedly when the insurance rep wasn't present, but this did reinforce my belief that the lion's share this 50K was for the coppers, not the rider. In the end I did feel a little sorry for the rider. His dragon of a wife kept nagging him and no doubt there was pressure from the coppers. The main “witness” was a slimy turd. In true Thai impartiality where a farang is involved he was telling massive porkies, no doubt for a cut of the rider's compo.
At no time was any party tested for drugs or alcohol. I was told the injured passenger running away was not relevant to the case! The police in the UK would be very interested in an injured runner.
Although this was a relatively minor accident, it shows how vulnerable we can be. I wasn't going to be intimidated, and have been known for being able to stand up for myself in a level headed manner despite provocation. I was considering an offer
if this came to within 24 hours of my visa expiring, but luckily it didn't.
My advice to Stick’s readers is this. Never rent vehicles from anyone but the likes of Avis, National, Budget etc.
Beachfront claims of insurance, on unroadworthy bikes, jeeps etc are lies! Plus, only a fool surrenders his / her passport to these charlatans! Steer clear of jet skis entirely.
You don’t need an R1 or Fireblade to impress Bangla Road’s / Pattaya's Isaan Infantry! Grey and purple passion notes do the trick.
This really does show how vulnerable one can be if involved in an accident here. You did handle it very well but I bet you're still rightly pissed off at having to pay a fine when you weren't at fault.