Driving here is sometimes tricky. Thus you might one day see a “police trafic officer from a little closer that you would have liked to…This police is in charge of enforcing the laws when it comes to driving , and they help in managing accidents in Amman and its suburb. This happened to me a few days ago – al hamdu lilla’h, nothing serious), so here is how things went for me.
Basically, it all depends of the seriousness of the case. In all case, please keep in mind that (1) the person with who you have an accident is likely to take benefit of the situation (negociation is paramont), and (2) that justice does exist – quite efficiently indeed – but you also have to understand the cultural approach to olve the case efficiently.
- The most easy situation : a small fender-bender without any injuries. This case can be solved in 10 minutes with a bank note, in order to pay the repair. This is especially recommended if the person you collided with doesn’t want to deal with the police (let’s say…he doesn’t have a car insurance or a license, which is quite common here). I suggest you to propose it anyway. It this procedure, you’ll keep away from the justice radar scope;
- If it’s more serious (but without injury), or if you just don’t find an agreement, you needthe power of the law with you. You have to call the police traffic at the 911. The policemen will arrive…whenever he can (in my case, 30ishminutes but I was at a 15-20 minutes ride from Amman. He will then write his report on the accident , he will draw a sketch on his tablet, he will take depositions, he will take pictures with his tablet. pretty neat actually. Then he goes back to the police station, and calls you to join so that you can sign the paper when it’s ready. This insurance will then lead the case.
- if someone is injured. This is the cas I’ve encountered. Same procedure as before, but you have to add a convocation to a court…(you’ll be notified when you sign the papers at the police station)…and you have a get a “sponsor” (yes, ladies, here, you re under the responsability of your husband. What, wait, you’re not married? oh,man.. 🙂 ). So, the next day a 9am, here we go to the court . It’s a big and nasty building, overcrowded with people, attorneys, lawyers everywhere…it really looked like a beehive. The court itself is just an office in which a judge stays, with a couple of clerks. You have to testify onthe Coran or the Bible that you will telle the truth (for us, our translator dit it by himself), and ask to each of you to tell the (true) story. Everything is written on live by the clerks, and you can read eveything on a computer screen, as long as you can read arabic. That is why it is paramount to attend to the court with someone who can read and speak arabic – I’ll get back to that point. At the end, the judge defines who is responsible of what so that the insurances can manage the case. There can be several convocations, depending on the physical condition of the protagonists…for example to make sure that is no permanent aftereffects.
Now a few words on the cultural approach. According to the bedooin tradition (but westerne people can pretend they don’t know the tribal rules so they’re not obliged to apply to those rules), it appears whatever the judge decides, the individual in fault has to go to the other person’s place in order to apologise to his familiy (the parents, if he/she is not married). The the family will invite you for the traditionnal mansaf. Both things cannot be reufsed: your host canno’t decide not to welcome you in his place, and as a consequence, you just can’t refuse its hospitality with the mansaf.
Now you know eveything! Of course, things can become much more tricky if the insurances are not updated, or if someone deiced to loge a complaint. To sum up, they are two ways to solve those kinds of issues: either you play the ” traditionnal card” by getting an unformal agreement based on the honor, or you just follow the more confortable (but heavier) police-justice procedure. Each solution has its own risks.
In every case, make sure that you can rely on a jordanian acquaintance or friend. (for example, your hotel manager if you’re only here for tourism). This service would most likely not be refused , and this would prove itself very useful to solve the issue. Here, very few things can be refused, but very few things also are for free: when it’s done, please make sure you find a way to thank efficiently for the help you got – it is a question of honor, and honor is paramount here.
And I really hope that this post will be useless for you 🙂