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Accidents abroad

Few victims of accidents abroad are aware of their right to compensation in France, either in the case of road accidents, or when they are victims of a criminal offense.

Victims of road accidents abroad

If the victim has an accident abroad in a car insured in France, often the provisions of the law of 5 July 1985 will be more profitable than those governing traffic accidents in the country of the accident site.

The provisions of this law will apply and the victims’ right to compensation will be recognized in accordance with French law and jurisprudence.

The Cabinet has, for example, recently compensated the victims of a traffic accident in Morocco while driving in their car insured with a French insurance company.

The victim of a traffic accident abroad when there is a responsible third party is also a victim of a criminal offense.

Victim of an offense abroad

Any victim of a criminal offense, road traffic offense or aggression abroad may be compensated in France by the Commission for the compensation of Victims of Offenses.

For example, the right to compensation of a young female client of the Cabinet who suffered a train accident in Hungary has been recognized as implicating the criminal liability of the driver of the train who committed a driving fault.

Through its network of confreres abroad, the Cabinet intervenes then ensuring that the facts have been well qualified in the country of occurrence of the criminal offense accident, see that an investigation is in progress or that a judgment was given by the criminal court.

Road accident abroad

In the event of an accident abroad, what are the steps to be taken?

The first action is to inform the local authorities of the accident so that they can formally identify the persons involved in the accident (eg the driver is the holder of the registration certificate) and investigate the circumstances. accident (eg is the driver’s blood alcohol level above the legal limit) It is strongly advised to take advantage of the intervention of the local authorities to complete the friendly report.

It is also appropriate for the accident victim to lodge a complaint with the local authorities if a violation of the highway code has been committed. Knowing that the facts are qualified according to the legislation of the country where the accident took place. And in case of a lawsuit, the rights of the parties (information on the evolution of the procedure, status at the trial, compensation rule) are also set by the legislation of the country in which the accident took place. 

For the most serious offenses, the French authorities invite nationals who have had an accident abroad to lodge a complaint also in France . France recognizes the principle of non bis in idem prohibiting the pursuit of new prosecutions in France against a person already judged definitively abroad for the same facts even though the characterization of the facts would be different between the two countries. But in case of non-judgment abroad, it is written in the Penal Code that when the victim is of French nationality at the time of the offense, French law applies to any crime or offense punishable by imprisonment. , committed by a Frenchman or a foreigner outside French territory.

Victims must be able to demonstrate the harm they suffer after the accident. Thus, all evidence of bodily injury or material injury must be established and maintained . In this respect, the French consulate of the foreign country has contact details of doctors or psychologists who can examine the disorders and the importance of the trauma suffered after the accident and provide accordingly medical certificates and / or work stoppages. In the event of a serious accident, the consulate can also warn the family of the victim and consider with them the measures to be taken (hospitalization, repatriation, etc. ).

What compensation is a victim entitled to?

In France, the law of 5 July 1985 regulates the procedure and the conditions of compensation for the victims of a traffic accident. It grants them a specific compensation scheme. However, this law does not apply to accidents occurring abroad. 

Compensation for victims of road accidents occurring abroad is governed by the legislation of the country where the accident took place . Thus, under the law of that country, the causes of limitation or exemption from liability in the accident are examined. Similarly, the legislation of the country where the accident took place establishes the limitation period of the offense, the terms of compensation and the extent of the reparations. 

Unless the parties involved in the accident are all French nationals , in which case the French law applies. Thus the French law of 5 July 1985 applies if the road accident occurred abroad but the accident vehicle is the only one involved or if the damaged vehicles all have a French registration. 

If the accident occurs in a country adhering to the “green card” (the countries of the European Union have all adhered to it) with a driver registered in the European Economic Area, the victim of the accident can send a request compensation to the French representative of the insurer of the person responsible for the accident. Or, failing that, to the Guarantee Fund for Compulsory Insurance for Damage, if the person in charge of the accident has not been identified or is not insured, or if the insurer of the person responsible for the accident has not representative in France, or did not submit an offer of compensation within 3 months following the request or contest the liability of his insured in the accident. 

If this is not the case, or if the offer of the insurer or the Compulsory Insurance Guarantee Fund does not compensate the victim for the damages that they suffer, the latter may institute legal proceedings. or before the Crime Victims Compensation Board. Victims of accidents can apply to this commission when the facts are particularly serious (eg death of a relative in a car accident for which he was not responsible, personal injury resulting in total disability working for more than 1 month or permanent disability). Whatever the place where the offense was committed, whether the perpetrator is identified or not, this jurisdiction compensates any person of French nationality who has suffered damage resulting from acts constituting an offense punishable in France.

Legal action, which court is competent?

The regulation of the European Economic Community lays down the principle that the court competent to judge a dispute related to a car accident is the court in whose jurisdiction the person responsible for the accident remains . However in tort, the victim of the accident may also bring the case to the court where the accident took place. When the accident occurred in a country outside the EEC and with which France has no bilateral agreement, there may be a conflict of jurisdiction between the courts of the place where the victim lives and the place where the person in charge of the accident remains. However, the victim most often has an interest in accepting that the court seised is the one in whose jurisdiction the person responsible for the accident resides, if he does not want him to be able to plead a right of privilege (as he exists in French law for example).

In order to improve the compensation of crime victims who often face the insolvency of their perpetrators (when they have been identified), the law has put in place a specific compensation scheme for French nationality can benefit even for assaults suffered abroad. 

As part of this system based on national solidarity and codified to 706-3 and following of the Code of Criminal Procedure, compensation for victims is operated by the Guarantee Fund for victims of acts of terrorism and other offenses ( the ” FGTI “).

I – Damages that can be compensated

Damages for which compensation may be claimed are damages resulting from an injury to the person (assaults of any kind) and / or damage to property resulting from any of the following offenses: theft, fraud, breach of trust, extortion, destruction, degradation or deterioration. 

II – Conditions of admissibility of the claim for compensation

 

Damage resulting from an attack resulting in total incapacity for work (” ITT “) of less than one month (note: the ITT is here a legal concept, an inactive person such as a retiree or a child who can be awarded an ITT) can be compensated by the FGTI only if the victim’s resources do not exceed the ceiling provided for by the regulations to receive partial legal aid. 

Property damage can only be compensated by the FGTI if the victim, in addition to satisfying the above-mentioned means test, can not obtain any real or effective compensation or compensation for its damage and is therefore done in a serious material or psychological situation. 

III – Amount of compensation that may be awarded 

Assaults resulting in total incapacity for work greater than or equal to one month or death or committed in connection with certain offenses listed by law (particularly rape) are fully reinstated, no compensation ceiling being provided for by the regulations. 

The compensation for other damages that may be compensated (damages to the person who caused an ITT less than one month and property damage) is carried out within a maximum limit equivalent to three times the monthly amount of the resource ceiling prescribed by the regulations to benefit partial legal aid. 

IV – Procedure 

A claim for compensation must be made to the Commission for Compensation of Victims of Infringements competent. 

For expatriate French nationals, the request for compensation must be submitted to the Compensation Commission for Victims of Infringements at the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris. 

While in law assistance to a lawyer registered with the Paris Bar is not required, in practice it can only be strongly recommended. The chosen Advocate will represent the victim in all proceedings and will ensure that all injury cases are fully compensated.

These articles indicate that the possibility of filing a complaint for an attack committed abroad is subject to the following terms and conditions: :

  • Aggression must be a crime or an offense punishable by imprisonment.
  • The victim must have French nationality at the time of the offense.
  • The victim must file a complaint (with a police station, a gendarmerie or directly with the public prosecutor).
  • The perpetrator must not have been tried abroad for the same facts.
  • The public prosecutor is free to pursue the prosecution of crimes.

It should be noted that the victim can also claim compensation for the damage suffered in civil cases by writing to the Commission for the Compensation of Crime Victims (CIVI) within three years of the offense. The CIVI competent for offenses committed abroad on French nationals is that of the TGI of Paris.