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Car Accidents & Personal Injury Claims within the EUCar Accident Claim
In 2012 over 130 million Europeans holidayed in another EU country. Over 75% of travellers used a motor bike or car. Inevitability some of these were involved in road traffic accidents. Many of us are unaware of our rights and entitlements if we have a personal injury or road accident claim in circumstances where you were in another EU country on holidays or as part of your employment. The laws of individual states, EU law and the various EU Directives can be confusing when assessing how and in what country you can make a claim.


Third party liability insurance is recognised all over the EU however, if you have been unfortunate enough to have had a car accident or suffered a personal injury while in the EU there are a number of key issues that vary between countries –

 

  • The levels of compensation for personal injuries vary
  • The types of personal injuries that are compensatable differ
  • There are varying time limitation periods within which to make a claim
  • The legal process of pursuing a claim through the courts in another jurisdiction can be extremely daunting

 

The end results of these issues are that there are considerable differences in the levels of compensation available between different EU jurisdictions. The time limitations issue has led to confusion. Victims of road traffic accidents could end up being denied compensation because of short time limitations. The rules on time limits for making a personal injury claim vary from 1 – 10 years depending on the country.

 

Access to Justice if I have a Personal Injury Claim in the EU
The EU recognises the cross-jurisdictional complexities of making a claim when you have had an accident abroad and there is EU legislation and directives in place to ensure road accident and personal injury victims have access to justice. The case of Kelly v Groupama illustrates how a plaintiff had his claims for damages assessed by the Irish High Court for an accident the claimant had in France.

 

The plaintiff who made the personal injury claim was on holidays in Cannes, France when he was hit by a local council vehicle driven by a council employee. The plaintiff sustained a fracture of the head and the left thigh bone and was taken by ambulance to the local hospital for treatment. He was subsequently transferred back to a hospital in Dublin. Prior to the accident, the plaintiff had been extremely fit and active and the accident had consequences for the plaintiff’s quality of life.


The plaintiff brought his claim for damages in the Irish High Court arising out of the accident he had in France. The EU Fourth Motor Insurance Directive (2000/26/EC) gives victims of road traffic accidents in the European Economic Area, which includes all EU states, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein the right to make a claim against the defendants and their insurers in the country where the claimant lives rather than where the accident occurred.


This case required a detailed analysis by the Judge of the jurisdictional rules applying to cross border claims and the Irish High Court awarded damages of €63,500 and €24,262 for medical expenses. A significant point in this award is that the Irish Judge found that the amounts assessed by the French legal experts (€38,000) were too low and did not represent fair and just compensation.


Making a cross border claim when you have been the victim of a road traffic accident or personal injury can be very complex. If you would like to speak to a personal injury solicitor experienced in cross border claims phone 01 87 444 22 or email info@ mlaw.ie