Road accidents in Portugal – What you should know and do

Road accidents: something that we all absolutely want to avoid but unfortunately it happens.  If you have a bump in your native country it can be very stressful and often, we don’t deal with the situation as we may have in hindsight. Having this happen in a foreign country where you may not be confident with the language can push those stress limits to a whole new level! If you have a bit of prior knowledge on what to do in case of a road accident it may help you keep calm and deal with it a little easier.

When should you dial 112 (the Portuguese emergency line) in case of a road accidents?

Someone is injured. When it comes to accidents, if there was an accident where someone is injured you would always dial 112 (the Portuguese emergency line) and then ambulance and police would come to assist the accident and prepare the report.

When to call local police instead?

If an accident involves more than 2 vehicles. Even if no one is injured.You’ll need police’s assistance in getting a report of the accident. If you can, also take photos of the accident.

When you do not agree who’s fault the accident was but no one is injured. If you’re uncomfortable with the situation and the other driver is refusing to accept guilt, it’s best to call the local police. As alien as that may seem, it’s a very common thing to do in Portugal. If possible, keep your car where it is, put your high visibility coat on, take photos of the accident scene and only move your car when you’re happy that the other driver accepts fault or when the Police arrive and tell you to move your vehicle. This is all ok of course if you’re not in danger, if you’re on a busy motorway and facing a pile up or being run over then your safety is your only priority. My advice would be to get off onto the emergency lane with your car if possible and get yourself behind the metal safety barriers as who pays the damages of your car will matter little if you or your family are seriously injured or worse.

Lastly, in these cases, if you can get an independent witness then get their name, address and phone number as this could prove to be very helpful.

EU Accident Form – when you need to fill this in?

If you have an accident where there’s no injuries, and both parties agree on who’s at fault then you don’t have to call the police. Both parties would just fill in the EU Accident Form (Declaração Amigável de Acidente Automóvel). Also take some photos of the accident (if possible). Afterwards submit a copy of form and photos to their respective insurance companies which would deal with rest.

You should carry a copy of the EU Accident form in the car. If you need, you can also DOWNLOAD EU Accident Statement form here in English.

Please see our tips on HOW TO FILL IN EU ACCIDENT FORM aka Declaração Amigável de Acidente Automóvel.

When to contact your insurance company?

You are not required to call your insurance agent / company at the time of the accident. You should report it to them as soon as you have the above details. The sooner you get those to your agent the better. It will then be your agent helping with the claim.

To conclude,

Hopefully if you have an accident it’s simple and easily dealt with but there are situations where even if you’re not at fault, you may find it goes 50-50, unless the other driver admits fault. Roundabouts for example, it’s very rare that anyone admits fault and extremely difficult to prove unless there’s independent witnesses. This is also the case with roads that have a width of less than 3.5m. If you’re doing a parking manoeuvre then you can pretty much expect to get the full blame and if you do think someone is about to hit you while you are parking “stop” and make sure you tick the box on the accident form to say you were stopped. Often unfair on those parking that they get the blame due to another driver’s lack of patience but it’s the unfortunate reality of the way these accidents normally go.

Yours truly,
Ged Heaney

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