Road accident victims injured in Europe are bound by local law – but English courts can award compensation
Currently each European Union country is subject to laws enabling anyone who is unlucky enough to have a car accident abroad to make a claim in their own country against a foreign insurer and, by law, every EU insurance company must be represented in every EU country. So if you have an accident in France, for example, you can claim directly through the insurer of the at-fault driver or from England through the insurer’s UK agent.
You remain bound by the law of the country in which the accident occurred, however if your claim hits a problem that requires recourse to legal support or to court, you are able to access the help you need in England. As in England, in many EU countries damages are awarded at a judge’s discretion, which makes it likely that you will receive same compensation if you claim through the English courts compared with engaging a lawyer in the EU country where the accident occurred.
For anyone taking a vehicle to Europe either for work or on holiday this system offers important protections and rights, and I very much hope these protections will be retained after the UK leaves the EU.
Having recently taken such a case through the High Court in London, I have direct experience of how much better it can be for clients to be able to sue in England rather than being forced to go to trial abroad. In this instance, my client had sustained a serious brain injury as well as multiple orthopaedic and internal injuries that make it unlikely he will ever work again. He needed help with his rehabilitation and his claim needed to take into account all his future needs and losses.
His case involved two insurers from two different EU countries. They were not as cooperative about paying compensation as many English insurers would be, but my client was able to rely on a fair resolution at the hands of an English court. As so many of us continue to travel throughout the EU – to trade, to work, or to go on holiday – it is reassuring to know that our legal system will look after us.
For help and advice about claiming compensation for an accident abroad that was not your fault, or for more general information about personal injury law, contact the George Ide team on 01243 786668 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claire Watson. Partner, Head of Personal Injury.General, George Ide, News, Personal Injury Blog