Car accidents – who’s liable?

Vehicle insurance in France

Under French law you should fill out the “Constat Amiable d’accident Automobile” form if an accident occurs. This is not compulsory BUT we highly recommend that you do, otherwise you may lose the right to defend your case/argument. Without a completed Constat, the whole process of claiming will become even more complicated, slowing down the time it could take to finally receive a settlement.

MAKE SURE YOU CARRY ONE IN YOUR CAR! This information is for reference only and is not intended to be fixed in stone, but it will help you understand the process better – and we all need that! 


Here is an explanation of the 17 points you will find in the centre of the Constat:

  Circumstance Probable Liability
1. Parked (at the roadside). Well parked: no responsibility. However if you are badly parked you could be liable for up to 50%!
2. Leaving a parking place (at the roadside). You are at fault.
3. Entering a parking place (at the roadside). You are at fault.
4. Emerging from a car park, from private ground, from a track. You are at fault.
5. Entering a car park, private grounds, a track. You are at fault.
6. Entering a roundabout (or similar traffic system). You are at fault.
7. Circulating on a roundabout etc. Depends on each individual roundabout, be careful and read the road signs.
8. Striking the rear of the other vehicle whilst going in the same direction and in the same lane. You are at fault.
9. Going in the same direction but in a different lane. Give as much information as possible in this circumstance.
10. Changing lanes. You are at fault.
11. Overtaking. Depends on the circumstances, give as much detail as possible.
12. Turning to the right. Depends on the circumstances, give as much detail as possible.
13. Turning to the left. Depends on the circumstances, give as much detail as possible.
14. Reversing. You are at fault.
15. Encroaching in the opposite traffic lane. Carry a measuring tape in your car! If you regularly drive on small roads and have an accident, leave the car where it is and measure the width of the road to establish where the middle of the road is. You must do this due to a lack of white markings. You must also consider any tyre tracks/skid marks on the grass or road, to establish who was at fault! If the other driver is found to have been on your side of the road, you can claim against him OR he against you if you have encroached upon his side of the road! If it's unclear, it will be a 50/50 claim.
16. Coming from the right (at a road junction). The other car is at fault.
17. Not observing a right of way sign. You are at fault BUT look for any road signs.