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Foreign citizen injured

Personal injury lawyer for foreign citizen victim in France

Suffering bodily injury in a country other than one's usual place of residence very often adds additional anguish to the victim or their family.

Indeed, in addition to having to manage the health situation in an often unknown context and in a language with which the victim is unfamiliar, the victim or his entourage will very quickly be confronted with several important questions relating both to the provision of care , than to the implementation of the rights of this victim.

In this context, the intervention of a lawyer specializing in personal injury may prove to be decisive in ensuring full respect for the rights of the victim.

When to consult a specialized attorney?

As soon as possible after the occurrence of the accident, and in any event, from the onset of the first difficulties relating either to the provision of care or to respect for the rights of the victim.

What role for the French specialist lawyer when his client resides abroad?

Its role will vary depending on the situation.


Determine the legal or amicable remedy to be implemented

In all cases, his first role will be to determine the best recourse (s) to implement in order to best promote the interests of his client.

This seems to go without saying, but we must not lose sight of the specificities of an accident abroad for the victim who suffers it. Particularly in the fact that the victim could potentially benefit from a right of action in his country of residence, in addition to a right of action to be exercised in France, where the accident occurred.


Analyze the rights of his client according to the rules applicable in the country where the damage was suffered and those in force in France

Each country has its own legal rules. This is true both with regard to the rights and obligations of each individual and the procedure to be followed in order to request a sanction by a court.

Thus, it will sometimes be highly prejudicial to a victim injured in a country other than his country of habitual residence to take legal steps without knowing the rights which he might have enjoyed in the other country concerned.

Parmi les principales différences pouvant exister d’un pays à l’autre concernant le droit de la réparation du dommage corporel, mentionnons :

Presence or not of specific laws providing for no fault liability

Some states, such as New Zealand, Quebec, and some American states, have adopted no-fault compensation systems.

It is important to know the existence of these laws and to master their mechanisms in order to be able to avail oneself of the rights which result from them, but also to be able to request, if necessary, compensation outside the scale for the surplus, by setting up the recourse. appropriate.

French law does not provide for “no fault”, especially in road accidents.

A 1985 law improved the situation for victims of personal injury suffered as a result of a traffic accident, but compensation is neither automatic nor subject to a scale.

Limitation periods

10 years from the consolidation of the damage in France.

The method of proof may vary from country to country

In France, proof is essentially in writing or attestation, practically never by giving oral testimony before the Tribunal.

The role of the lawyer is different

In France, of course, the lawyer has a role of legal advisor, but he must also play a proactive role in collecting the various documents that will serve as evidence either at trial or in the context of an amicable settlement.

The amounts of compensation that can be obtained vary greatly from one country to another

It is up to the lawyer for the victim concerned to be able to best advise his client on the most appropriate remedy.

The principle of French law is to fully compensate the damage suffered, without loss or profit for the victim. A first consequence of this principle is the rejection of any claim for punitive damages.

Another consequence is that for cases with significant injuries, the compensation granted for extra-patrimonial damages (suffering, functional deficit, etc.) often represents a small part of the overall compensation, compared to the patrimonial damages (loss of income , assistance by a third party, etc.)


Implement the rights his client enjoys in France, if applicable

Of course, the French lawyer specializing in foreign citizen victims in France will have to implement all means of action in France to ensure respect for the interests of their client.

It should be specified here that any French lawyer can follow a case and plead it on all the French territory, whatever his bar of attachment.

In addition, contrary to what is found in Anglo-Saxon systems where trials can take place over several days, even several weeks, no trial in France will require more than one day of presence of the lawyer at the Tribunal, barring exceptions (serial damage, for example).


A French particularity: judicial expertise or amicable contradictory expertise

Whatever means are used to obtain compensation for the damage suffered by a victim, this compensation will necessarily require a medical examination to take place.

Contrary to what is happening in many other countries, and in particular in Canada and the United States, where the victim can have an expertise done on his side, which will possibly be contrary to another assessment ordered by the opposing insurance, the French system is based on the idea of ​​unique contradictory expertise.

In this system, the parties can either agree on an expertise to be entrusted jointly to the doctors of their choice, or ask the Tribunal to appoint an independent expert to act as an expert.

This or these expert (s) will examine the victim and write a report, which will contain in particular the details of the main items of bodily injury which will subsequently be compensated.

It is therefore important that the victim’s lawyer is able to surround him with competent medical advisers who will assist in the expertise operations. And who will ensure that the rights of the victim are not infringed upon when writing the report.

For a foreign victim injured in France, the question of relocating the expertise to the victim’s place of residence, or of bringing the latter to France to be appraised there is a particularly delicate issue. On this topic, as on other issues in a case, only the interests of the client must be taken into account by the lawyer in his advice and actions.

Clearly, if the victim’s interest is for the expertise to be carried out in his country of residence, in particular because the handicap is severe and it is necessary for the expert to be able to get a precise and concrete idea of ​​the handicap situation that is experienced, it will be necessary to relocate the expertise.

This relocation will then involve the expert traveling to the victim’s home, and with him possibly a French medical adviser appointed by the victim.

It often happens that the presence of the victim’s lawyer is useful at this stage, if not essential.

In all cases, the Lawyer will have a proactive role to play in the preparation of the expert’s report, by intervening if necessary with the victim’s caregivers in his country of residence in order to obtain all the medical documents of the victim. nature to ensure that the expert can take into account all the injuries and sequelae.


It was related above what could be in the interest of the victim or his entourage to take legal steps in the country where the accident occurred.

In a good number of situations, there could be one or more actions to be taken in the victim's country of residence, at the same time as the action taken in France.

The compensation to be received could potentially be cumulative, which justifies not neglecting any possible recourse from the outset.

It therefore seems essential for the victim or his relatives to be able to ensure that the lawyer they consult can direct them, if necessary, to a competent lawyer practicing in their country of residence.

Me Louis SAINT-PIERRE is a member of an international network of lawyers specializing in personal injury compensation.

As such, he works in collaboration with lawyers in continental Europe, Great Britain, Canada, Florida, California, New York and elsewhere in the United States.

He is thus in a position to direct his clients to competent professionals, when the situation demands it.

Me SAINT-PIERRE has a perfect command of English, which is often essential to ensure good management of international cases.

His dual competence as a Canadian and French lawyer also allows him to have an overview of the rules of law, both civil law and common law.

Are you a foreigner and have you been the victim of an accident in France? Contact a lawyer specializing in bodily injury and medical liability, perfectly bilingual who can intervene in your interests.


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    Le Cabinet d’Avocats LELIEVRE & SAINT-PIERRE est spécialisé en droit du dommage corporel et de la responsabilité médicale 103 Boulevard Notre-Dame 13006 Marseille