Surfers colliding

Third party liability surfing and traveling in west Sumatra

This might be the most important information you need to understand when visiting the Krui area of Wild West South Sumatra. This article is applicable to any type of accident where a local is injured or their property damaged.

The law of the jungle

Speak to "outsiders" Indonesian or foreign about their accident experiences in Lampung and they will all say it's the law of the jungle. Legal representation denied, at fault locals demanding damages, it can feel like extortion is standard practice. Demanding local government involvement will almost surely result in a massive increase in your financial loss.

  As an outsider you will almost always be at fault.

The bottom line

Pesisir Barat is far far away from any legal niceties. If your in an accident you should not expect any rational solution. Rather think 1800's American Wild West.

You are a walking wallet.

Many local Indonesians believe that every foreign tourist is rich. They see you as a walking wallet. If you're in an accident this belief will almost definately lead to a very difficult, distressing and expensive situation.

Hati Hati (careful careful).

You can't be careful enough. Eventually the laws of probability will get you. You can however take some precautions

While surfing

There are a lot of beginner Indonesian surfers out in conditions beyond their capabilities. Most don’t follow the safety rules of surfing and have a macho attitude that's a danger to you and themselves. Avoid surfing with these local surfers.

Out on your scooter

It only takes a few minutes watching the chaotic Indonesian traffic zipping by to know driving any vehicle in Indonesia is dangerous.

Do I need a drivers licence ?

Don't believe anything your accommodation owner or motorcycle hire tells you. It is illegal for a foreigner to drive a vehicle in Indonesia without a vaild International Drivers Liscence. If you are in an accident and you don't have a IDL you will be in for an extremely scary, unpleasant and expensive experience. Even if you were the one who got crashed into!

What to do if you are in an accident.

Quickly prepare for the very worst situation you could imagine. Getting locked in a jail cell with your mobile phone taken off you and no way to contact anyone.

  • Remain calm. Getting angry will only make things worse.
  • Prepare a detailed written accident statement. If the accident was not your fault be very clear why it was not your fault. Including what actions if any you took to avoid the accident.
  • Before things get serious and you are threatended with an unacceptable claim or arrest you should:
    • Immediately contact your embassy.
    • Immediately seek the assistance of a foreigner who will help you if you are arrested.
  • Be very careful about agreeing to pay any damages without a legally binding settlement agreement which should:
    • be signed by you, the plantif and an officially recognized witness.
    • include a mutual release waiver that relieves all parties of any future accountability for legal disputes and affirms their assent to the resolution laid out in the settlement agreement.

What to do to help protect youself.

  • Avoid surfing around local Indonesian surfers that are beginners.
  • Do not drive without a drivers licence recognized in Indonesia.
  • Try and find travel insurance that specifically covers 3rd party liability for all the activities you will be involved in.

These words of advice from an Indonesia friend are worth remembering "You are not in Jakarta."