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Choosing which country's law applies for a motor vehicle accident in a European Union country

Choosing which country's law applies to your accident claim can bring about significant increases in the amount of compensation you receive - using the example of English and French law for a motor vehicle accident you will learn some of these advantages.

How do you decide which EU country's law applies to your motor vehicle accident claim?

Imagine you and your husband are on holiday in France. Your husband is driving a car and you are a front seat passenger (not wearing a seat belt) when you are hit by a French driver. You suffer severe injuries and wish to make a claim for compensation against your husband.

Motor vehicle accident

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To decide which country's law applies to your claim for compensation you must take into account two things:

1. European Law

European Law indicates that you can either start your claim in France, as the country where your motor vehicle accident happened, or England - as the person you are making your claim against (your husband) is domiciled or normally lives in England.

2. Domestic Law

If you decide to start your claim in England the domestic law is English. You can look at English law to help you decide which law must be used to decide if you will succeed in your claim for compensation.

English law tells you that French law should be used to decide if you have a claim for compensation following an accident in France caused by a French national.

In other words - you have a choice. You can either start your claim in France relying totally on French law or you can start your claim in England relying on English law for the amount of compensation you should receive, but on French law as to whether your compensation claim will be successful.

Why would you want to choose one country's law over another in making your claim for compensation?

Each country has advantages compared to another in making a claim for compensation, so by choosing the best law for your claim you can maximise your compensation claim.

Some examples of advantages include:

1. English law

a) Awards more compensation than French law for the same personal injury.

b) Follows a procedure that you will find more understandable as you are from England.

2. French law

a) Does not reduce the amount of compensation you receive for not wearing a seat belt in a motor vehicle accident.

b) Allows you to make a compensation claim against the driver at fault (here the French driver) or the driver of the vehicle you are a travelling in (your husband) even if that driver was not at fault.

In other words - by making a claim in England and relying on French law you will receive a much larger sum of compensation (English law) which will not be reduced because of your failure to wear a seat belt (French law).

What should you do if you have a motor vehicle accident in the European Union?

If you have a motor vehicle accident in a European Union country I would recommend you contact a specialist personal injury lawyer who will help you decide how best to make your claim.

Click motor vehicle accident to find out all you need to know about making a motor vehicle accident compensation claim