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For a French victim seriously injured abroad (or deceased), there are two different legal texts that may apply:

° According to EC Regulation No. 864/2007 known as “Rome II”, relating to the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (i.e. road accidents), applicable from 11 January 2009, of direct application in all states without necessary transposition:

It provides that the law of the country where the damage occurred must apply but provides for exceptions:

° According to the Hague Convention of 4 May  1971 on the law applicable to road traffic accidents entered into force In France on 3 June 1975

It also provides for the applicability of the law of the country where the accident occurred but includes different exceptions:

° The Court of Cassation, he French highest Court, in a judgment dated 30 April  2014 ruled in favor of the applicability of the Hague Convention, considering for the latter is an international instrument and therefore was superior to “Rome II”, considered as a local law.

“The general rule in this matter is that the applicable law is that of the country where the damage occurred.” 

There are therefore two exceptions, 

Which competent court, which competent body?

In principle, the competent court is that of the domicile of the defendant.

However, in matters of insurance, it is possible to bring the insurer of the responsible third party before the court of the place of the harmful event, before the jurisdiction of the Member State where he has his domicile, and finally in the State where the victim lives.

In France, since 2020, the Highest Court, Court of Cassation excluded from the jurisdiction of the CIVI traffic accidents occurring in a State of the European Union, thus dismissing the French victim of a traffic accident in Europe, referral to foreign courts or the FGAO and the application of foreign law.

The victim can therefore choose to take legal action in their own country, before the courts of their State of residence. This exemption from territorial jurisdiction does not modify the applicable law in any way so that the national courts of the victim’s place of residence will have to apply the law of the country in which the accident occurred.

The victim will have to provide proof of the existence of the offense and consequently, if you can, it will be appropriate to obtain a copy of the procedure initiated in the country the accident happened. 

As your lawyer, we can request a copy directly from the competent authorities.

If you have medical documents, you will need to have them translated if you plan to refer the matter to the French courts. When you leave the hospital, ask for a copy of the medical file to avoid having to request it later when you return to France.

As your lawyer, we will organize a medical expertise with the French representative of the European insurer).

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