Procedure to follow in the event of a road accident in France

June 10, 2024

A road accident is a traumatic and stressful experience, especially if you are in a state of shock or if anyone has been injured. However, it's crucial to keep calm and follow the key steps to ensure everyone's safety and protect your rights.

This article will serve as a comprehensive guide to navigating the steps to take after a road accident in France.

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Report the accident to your insurance company

Within five working days of the accident, you must report the accident to your car insurance France company. You can do this by telephone, by post or online.

Don't forget to provide your insurer with all the necessary information, including :

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  • a copy of the completed accident report;
  • the police report (if available);
  • photographs of the damage to the vehicle
  • any other relevant documents;

Your insurance company will then inform you of the compensation procedure and additional documents to be provided.

Securing the scene and helping the injured

In the event of a road accident, the top priority is to ensure the safety of all occupants and other road users. The first thing to do is to switch on your hazard warning lights to alert oncoming motorists. Then check the state of health of the people in your vehicle and those in the other vehicles involved in the accident. If anyone is injured, don't hesitate to call 112 immediately to summon the emergency services.

Once the initial emergency has been dealt with, try as far as possible to get the immobilised vehicles off the road to avoid any further accidents. If this is not possible, park on the hard shoulder or on the side of the road, as far from traffic as possible. 

To make the scene safer, we strongly recommend that you set up a safety perimeter using warning triangles, at the prescribed distance from the accident area. These initial measures help to contain the danger and facilitate the intervention of the emergency services.

Exchanging information with the other parties involved

Once the situation is safe, it is important to exchange information with the other drivers involved in the accident. Take your joint accident report with you and note down the following information:

  • identity of drivers and passengers: name, address, telephone number and driving licence number;
  • vehicle details: make, model, registration number and insurance company;
  • circumstances of the accident: date, time, place, description of the facts and sketch of the accident if possible;
  • condition of the vehicles: nature of visible damage
  • names and contact details of witnesses, if any.

Fill in the accident report form amicably with the other driver. In the event of disagreement over the circumstances of the accident, each driver may complete his or her own part of the accident report, mentioning ‘reservations’.

Contact the police and report the accident

Even in the event of a minor accident, it is important to contact the police to obtain a report. This will make the facts official and establish who is responsible for what.

If you are the victim of bodily injury, you can also lodge a complaint with the police or gendarmerie. This will enable you to take legal action at a later date if necessary.

The presence of the police or gendarmerie at the scene is compulsory if anyone has been injured in the accident. In this situation, it may be a good idea for the victim to lodge a complaint with the police at the same time. This will enable criminal proceedings to be brought against the driver at fault, if his or her behaviour constitutes a breach of the Highway Code (hit-and-run, drink-driving, etc.).

Filing a complaint also opens the way to claims for damages before the civil courts, in order to obtain compensation for the harm suffered (medical expenses, time off work, pain and suffering, etc.). Victims of personal injury accidents should therefore build up a case backed up by medical documents in particular. Having the accident report and a complaint would greatly facilitate legal proceedings and compensation.

Compensation procedure

The amount of compensation awarded following a road accident varies according to a number of criteria. Firstly, it is essential to determine the respective responsibilities of the drivers involved. This is based on the facts set out in the joint report or the official report drawn up by the police. 

The seriousness of the damage, whether material to the vehicle or bodily injury to the occupants, is then assessed by an independent expert appointed by the insurers. Finally, the level of cover guaranteed by motor insurance policies for the parties concerned determines the final amount of compensation. The ceilings on cover, excesses and exclusions set out in the contract are all factors that influence the calculation of compensation.

It is important to read your insurance policy carefully before taking out cover, to understand what it covers and what it excludes.

Practical advice

In a situation as stressful as a road accident, it's vital to keep calm and not let yourself get into disputes with the other drivers involved. Instead, concentrate on the methodical collection of evidence and factual elements. Don't hesitate to take detailed photographs of the damage to the vehicles and the general layout of the scene. 

Don't forget to record the contact details of any witnesses to the scene. Make sure you keep all the documents relating to the accident, including the joint accident report, the police report and any exchanges with your insurance company. 

If you have any questions or doubts about the procedure to follow, don't hesitate to ask your insurer or a traffic law professional for expert advice. Managing the aftermath of an accident calmly and rigorously will save you a lot of trouble.

Conclusion

A road accident can be an upsetting experience, but it's important to keep calm and follow the key steps to ensure everyone's safety and protect your rights.

By following the advice given in this article, you will be better prepared to deal with the aftermath of a road accident in France.