What to do at the scene of an accident off-post

Courtesy of AFRICOM’s Office of Legal Counsel and the Staff Judge Advocate, 21st TSC

Right after an accident occurs: 

Safety is first: Turn on hazard-warning signal flashers, leave the vehicle, help others and get behind a guardrail etc. Put on the warning vests and place the warning triangle approximately 100 meters away from the scene to warn other drivers.

Call “110” to report the accident to the Polizei and to request an ambulance (if necessary) is the next step.

The Polizei and many insurances offer an “Unfallmeldeformular”or accident report form to exchange information with the other driver. The following are two links to download one two copies are required, one for yourself, the other one for the other party:

Look for witnesses and get their names and contact information.

Never confess or make a statement at the scene; you are only obligated to provide your personal data as: Full name, local address, date and place of birth. Do not provide your social security number.

Take several  photos (digital camera/smart phone) of the scene from different angles, including the damaged parts of all involved vehicles.

Do not forget to get the contact information of the German Police Officer and the case-number of their report.

Within 72 hours after an off-post traffic incident, a report must be filed with the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Provost Marshal at the Military Police Desk located in Building 2307 on Patch Barracks. Bring a copy of the Polizei report and driver information form completed at the scene. A copy of the MP traffic incident report is available to pick up approximately 10 days after the file date.

Contact your car insurance company to begin the claim process providing the details from the accident report and information exchange on scene.

About SOFA Claims and Unit Claims Officers

By Cpt. Wayne Janoe

Claims Judge Advocate for the Kaiserslautern Legal Services Center

As U.S. Forces increase operations across Europe, incidents resulting in property damage and personal injury, such as traffic accidents, are inevitable. Foreign nationals and other proper claimants who suffer damage or injury involving U.S. military activities may file a claim with the host nation claims office where

It is vital that units gather relevant facts at the scene and promptly notify their servicing Judge Advocate, who will work with the Claims Judge Advocate and the United States Army Claims Service Europe (USACSEUR) to guide the unit through the appropriate investigative process.

Claims costs from U.S. military activities can be high, and potential claims incidents may have international implications. Under the NATO and Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs), USACSEUR and host nations work together to investigate and resolve SOFA claims for which the U.S. Army has claims responsibility. While claimants file directly with the host nation claims office, it is imperative that USACSEUR receive relevant information directly from the unit in order to ensure a fair resolution.

The following steps will help ensure proper processing of SOFA claims:

Commanders should appoint a standing Unit Claims Officer (UCO).

Army regulations require prompt investigation of potential claims incidents, and commanders of battalion sized units and above must appoint a UCO to conduct initial factual investigations and coordinate with claims personnel. UCOs should be appointed on standing orders to ensure timely investigation and technical proficiency.

Units must report incidents promptly and conduct an appropriate investigation.

Soldiers and civilians must be aware of the possibility of SOFA claims, and units must quickly report incidents to their servicing Judge Advocate. Failure to do so can have serious consequences. Some incidents require only an informal and brief investigation. Others require a more formal and detailed process. The servicing Judge Advocate and claims personnel will help determine the suitable level of investigation in each case.

U.S. personnel must exchange required information with potential claimants at the scene.

It is usually advisable to contact local police. U.S. personnel should provide the potential claimant with a telephone number and unit point of contact. The full name, address, phone number, and license plate number (if applicable) of the potential claimant, insurance information (if applicable), and a short description of the incident should be forwarded up the chain of command and to the unit’s servicing Judge Advocate.

U.S. personnel should never admit fault or liability at the scene. Determination of fault will be accomplished through the claims process. It is never a good idea to sign a statement admitting personal liability for an incident. U.S. personnel should not sign anything they can’t read and should only confirm facts when communicating with local police or potential claimants. And, as always, contact your local Claims Office if you have any questions.

Contact the Stuttgart Law Center with any questions on Kelley Barracks, Building 3312, 2nd Floor, Room 215 or DSN: 421-4152/2609 or civ. 0711-729-4152/2609.

Other useful links: