Specialist lawyer Inka Pichler on speeders, cyclists and legal expenses insurance. Plus: the best law firms for private clients – whether it’s a dispute with the employer, in traffic or in the family.
Ms. Pichler, as a traffic lawyer, do you understand speeders and illegal parkers? As a lawyer, I defend the legal system. It’s not a question of sympathy. Every citizen has the right to the best possible legal advice and a fair trial. It would be a total inequality of arms for a layman to face a judge, prosecutor, insurance company, or opposing attorneys without support.
So you don’t have to like to drive fast to defend speeders? No. A family lawyer does not have to be divorced.
Are speed violations the most common cases? Someone drove 40 in the 30 zone or overlooked a sign outside of town. We have such administrative offenses, such fine proceedings, very, very often. Many clients are concerned with the principle. There threatens a point in Flensburg. You just don’t want it because the vest was previously white.
Speed violations are verified by measurements. What can a lawyer do there anyway? There are many different measurement methods, not all of which are fully developed. There is plenty of evidence that results are always wrong. Why shouldn’t one resist it?
In the age of digitization it should be easy to measure the speed perfectly. On the contrary! The technology is a black box for the driver. For this reason, courts have often ruled in recent years that the person concerned has the right to view the measurement files through his lawyer. You don’t have to blindly believe that the speed printed on the speed camera photo is correct. For the imposition of a driving ban, however, it makes a difference whether the measurement of 42 km/h is correct or whether it was 39 km/h. Measuring devices have already been completely withdrawn from circulation.
Aren’t your clients quite dogged? No, the catalog of fines has changed so often that many in the consultation want to know whether this is really the order of the day. For some, it’s a lot. Driving bans of between one and three months threaten fines. Professional drivers, for example, are simply afraid for their existence. It is unlikely that the proceedings will be dropped, but we have the tools to avert a driving ban in the course of the process.
Has the tightening of the catalog of fines led to more disputes? Yes, there have been more cases. This is also due to a changed attitude of many citizens. People used to say: Oh, I guess I was too quick and paid. After the turmoil of the past few years, the back and forth over the validity of the catalog of fines, many are now saying: I no longer believe the state, I will have it checked. The rules are actually difficult to understand. When exactly will the driver’s license be revoked? How long are the statutes of limitations for points?
Good for your trade, but a bad reference for politics. We are more in demand than ever.
What costs do I have to expect when I go to a lawyer? That depends on whether the lawyer charges according to the Lawyers’ Fees Act or agrees on a fee, for example based on hourly rates or flat rates. To put it simply: A procedure with the fine authority costs around 400 euros according to the Compensation Act. If the matter goes to court, for example if an expert is needed, then this can also rise to up to 2000 euros. We have our price, but you can also talk to us to avoid high cost risks. Sometimes it makes sense, for example, to get the file first and then discuss how to proceed.
Does it play a role in the proceedings whether you have legal protection insurance? Most clients have a traffic legal protection policy. If you don’t have insurance, you tend to pay the fine right away because it’s often less than our compensation. The costs for measurement reports are also too high for many self-paying clients.
So is insurance worth it? Yes. Such a policy also makes sense in the event of an accident. Insurance companies are increasingly reducing their benefits. There are specialists in the damage departments that you, as a normal citizen, cannot cope with. Then there is the use of artificial intelligence. You send a report there, which is first checked by software. Then you get a 15-page letter, all of which will not be paid for. You can’t do that at all without a lawyer.
The Corona period has stressed many. Has that also led to greater irritation in road traffic? During the course of the pandemic, the number of accidents initially fell. Fortunately, the number of road deaths today is at its lowest level since the data was recorded. The picture has changed since January. People are on the move again. The number of accidents has skyrocketed. When I look at what ends up on our table here, I see that aggressiveness has increased.
But why? My theory: During the pandemic, people felt that their personal rights were being restricted and are therefore now insisting on them all the more on the road. For example: I force my right of way. Such cases have increased significantly. In the past, people let things be threaded, today they insist on their rights. Everyone is irritable.
Is that also due to the changing mobility? In road traffic there should actually be a togetherness. Paragraph 1 of the Road Traffic Act calls for mutual consideration. But when I look at my files, my impression is that there is more and more conflict on German streets. During the pandemic, many have switched to cycling, but the infrastructure is not keeping up. Cycle paths end in nothing, lanes are repurposed. Those who commute back to the office in the morning now need significantly longer. The cyclist becomes an enemy for the driver…
… and vice versa. Cyclists are only less well protected when accidents occur. Then there is the boom in e-bikes. Many drivers underestimate their speed. In the typical turning accidents, the cyclist would never have been so fast in the past, and the car driver would have made it before him. Togetherness has to be re-learned.
Even with the often barely audible electric cars? Yes, they are very quiet. But fortunately we have not noticed an increased number of accidents. But there are other, new problems…
Namely? Electric cars as company cars are a really great thing due to the reduced taxation. Many companies also want to become climate-neutral and are completely converting their vehicle fleet. However, if an employee wants to charge the e-company car at home, you are suddenly caught in the middle of rental or residential property law. It is not that easy to enforce a charging station or wall box.
Can I request an electric car from my employer? And vice versa: Can he force it on me? It depends on the contracts. The employer has the right to limit the choice. The specific model is often a matter of negotiation if the specified leasing rate is adhered to. Company bikes are also becoming increasingly popular. A more recent development is mobility budgets. Employees can decide again and again whether they want to use the train or the car in the respective month. The car then often takes the form of a car subscription or corporate car sharing.
The company car was a prestige object for a long time. Yes, the car is the German’s favorite child. It is often still the case in the suburbs: every three years I want a more modern car than my neighbor. In the past, these were often large limousines or station wagons. Today it is often an SUV. The guidelines of the companies have become much more flexible.
Fleet management is one of your topics. Why did you decide to specialize in traffic law? It’s often said among lawyers: Anyone can do traffic law, sometimes dealing with accidents, sometimes dealing with speeding violations – these aren’t really big challenges. But that’s not true at all, on the contrary. We are on the move across all areas of law: compensation for damages, criminal law, social law. It’s incredibly diverse. I specialized in it from day one and found my niche.
Isn’t traffic law quite a male domain?Yes, unfortunately. Traffic law requires commitment, sensitivity and specialist knowledge. Both women and men can have both. In the training courses that I give, however, I see mostly men. Many of my colleagues have a pronounced affinity for motor vehicles. Me too though! I earned my degree by working in a car repair shop, among other things.
The best law firms
Termination? Divorce? Accident? From labor to traffic law, the stern list brings together the experts recommended by other lawyers
Labor law (for employees)
How the best law firms were determined
More than 165,000 lawyers offer their services to private individuals and companies in over 50,000 law firms in Germany. As a normal person, how are you supposed to find the right one? After studying and taking the state exam, there is no TÜV and no tests for lawyers. At best, the specialist lawyer title provides orientation, but around 45,000 legal advisors also have it. The star therefore asked those who are best acquainted with the confusing market: the lawyers themselves. They experience their colleagues and know who gets the best out of court and in negotiations.
The research partner is the renowned market research institute Statista, which determines rankings and top lists worldwide. First, a list of lawyers from different disciplines and regions was researched. This sample was created using the registers of the regional bar associations, the lawyers’ directory of the German Lawyers’ Association and research on the websites of law firms. In addition, other lawyers were able to register directly to participate. 30,272 lawyers were invited to an online survey that ran from October 4th to November 26th, 2021. Each participant could recommend up to ten law firms for private clients per area of law. The question was asked not about individuals, but about law firms, because comprehensive and continuous support is to be expected there. Of course, the participants could not name their own law firm.
A total of 4506 participants gave 19 718 recommendations. The star names the 200 best law firms in four specialist areas – from labor law to traffic law. The business magazine “Capital” publishes further lists from other areas of law at the same time. The recommendations do not apply to companies, but to private clients. Although this is an expert survey, a minimum number of assessments has been established – typically ten, depending on the size of the jurisdiction. Only law firms that were recommended more often than average made it onto the list of the best. The star provides guidance as to where clients can expect a high level of competence – this does not mean that all other law firms are disqualified.
The stern editorial team only works with partners with a high level of expertise for their studies. Statista brings this with her. The independent, internationally active market research institute works for a large number of clients. However, the neutrality of data collection and analysis is always guaranteed. The stern editorial team decided on the questionnaire and the study criteria. No law firm could apply for inclusion in the study or influence inclusion on the list.
The award-winning providers have the opportunity to acquire a star seal for their external image. More detailed information on the conditions of these seals can be found here