Thursday, May 23, 2013

Life in Ukraine - The law does not have to make any sense

We have been without a car for over five months now.  Our Kia Carens had 150,000 km on it and was in excellent condition with about $1500 worth of maintenance (mostly suspension related) plus new tires in the past year.

Front view of damage
About three weeks after his brother's untimely death, Andrei tried to make a clean sweep of it.  He and a friend were going somewhere at night in our car.  I made an agreement with him to look after maintenance, put gas in the car for his use and pay his share of repairs until he could afford to buy his own car. My Tanya was NOT in favour, let it be said, for the record.

Andrei said he was going 75 kmph and a tire blew when he was turning the corner.  That put the car into a skid which blew both tires on the driver's side and hit a tree at an angle. The front door post fortunately took most of the impact but the car is pretty much a write-off. Good thing Kias are built solid. The policeman at the scene, a friend of Andrei's, agreed and absolved him from all responsibility for the accident in his report.

Andrei had a couple of broken/cracked ribs and his left knee was badly banged up and may yet need an operation; not enough to warrant hospitalization at least.  His friend was thrown across in front of the steering wheel into the windshield, smashing his arm in three places and also breaking a vertebrae.  He was taken to hospital in Krivii Rih. Neither of them were wearing seat belts, though it is the law.

There was no insurance and even if there was it would have done us no good.  For a couple of years we carried insurance that basically would fix the car if we were not at fault.  We had one claim and by the time we made trips to Dnipropetrovsk and all the red tape, we could well have paid it out of pocket.  Saskatchewan style no-fault insurance with ample liability coverage is either unknown here or priced so high, no one uses it.

Andrei's friend had two operations in Krivii Rih to repair his arm and his back.  He is walking again but his arm did not set right and he needs further operations in Kyiv.  Andrei paid for the operations in Krivii Rih, as far as we know.  The operations in Kyiv will cost $4000.  We have no further information than that, though we have asked repeatedly.

The car was towed to P'yatikhatki. Because someone was seriously injured a criminal case was opened and professional investigation experts were called in.  In order to stop this procedure, you have to have enough money to buy off the chief prosecutor for Dnipropetrovskaya Oblast. Lawmakers make stupid laws because they know that they themselves will never be subject to them.

The official investigation of the accident said Andrei was going too fast for road conditions (100 to 120 kmph at night in fog) and did not see the corner in time, and threw the car into a skid which blew both tires. (This sounds a little more plausible to me as I know Andrei but that is neither here nor there).

If Andrei's friend signed off that Andrei is not responsible for his injury and for all future medical costs then the case will be dropped.  So the car sat in the police compound for over two months, waiting to see if the friend recovered from his injuries.  When it was obvious that he would not recover and would not sign off, the case proceeded further and mechanical experts (for which we paid their gas bill from Krivii Rih) came to examine the car to ensure that there was no mechanical reason for the accident.  For example if the tires had been poor, my Tanya, the car's owner, would suddenly have been on the hot seat.

The car was eventually released with a clean bill of health and towed back to Zhovti Vody where it sits in storage.  We cannot do anything to it until the case is decided which could take a year or ten years for all we know.  It will depend on Andrei's friend's recovery.  if he is unable to use his arm for life (especially if no one has $4000) that will impact the severity of the judgement against Andrei. The car may be again called into evidence if the case goes to court ie if Andrei fights it.

The documents about the case are 80% complete but there have been two murders in P'yatikhatski Raion and the local investigation people are busy with that.  Next week they will send the documents to Dnipro to be completed by someone with some spare time.

In the meantime our car sits. We could sell it for parts or if the frame was not bent, it might be reparable given that labour is so cheap.  But the longer it sits the less it is worth.  One learns about the law the hard way, it seems.






10 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear about the injuries and loss of the use of your vehicle. Tough lessons to learn but it seems we all have to learn them on our own. Regarding the investigation, there are ways to determine if a tire blew and caused the collision, if it blew during the collision, after the collision, etc. so it is possible that the experts have it right.

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    1. Car accidents attract you every time, I see. Thanks for leaving a comment and will expect them more often. I think the investigation experts here have it right. They are well trained and very competent.

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  2. A good policy: Never lend your car, your motorcycle, your dog or your wife.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Erma Bombeck in her advice to mothers said never to loan your car to anyone to whom you have given birth. Tanya was right; I was wrong. If Andrei had been killed, our marriage would have likely ended.

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  3. So glad it didn't turn out worse than it did, but the aftermath is downright scary. Thanks for reminding me of yet another reason I love living in Canada.

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    1. I could not understand at first why Tanya was so terribly upset - it was just an accident. Now I understand. She is in the clear as the car was mechanically sound but Andrei is not out of the woods yet and we have no car. And everything is left hanging. Canada is a wonderful country in so many ways.

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  4. That is a sad and difficult situation all around. Some people here complain about insurance or medical care but they don't realize how good we have it.

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