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What to do if you have a car accident in France

If you’re driving in France or going to be driving in France make sure you know what to do in the event of a car accident or breakdown.

Breakdown cover for driving in France:

Breakdown cover for your vehicle if you take it from the country of origin to France is highly recommended.  It should cover you if you need to repatriate your car or to get it fixed whilst in France which can be very expensive.

If you break down on a toll road in France you will be obliged to use the toll road administrators breakdown provider  – your own breakdown cover service will not be able to assist you.

If you have a minor car accident in France you should know what to do:

  • Move to a safe place and alert oncoming traffic by placing your red warning triangle 30 metres down the road to alert oncoming traffic
  • If it’s an accident and two cars are involved, you may be asked to fill in a “constat amiable” (an amiable declaration) by the driver if a French car is involved. This is standard practice and should include written and graphic descriptions of the accident – if you don’t understand what has been written or don’t agree – do not sign the form – this is a very important document and can be used as evidence.
  • If more than two cars are involved, then each French driver will need to fill in a “constat amiable”.
  • Make a note of the registration number and take the details of any witnesses or police officers

NB:  The French insurance industry has a “no claims bonus” structure so it is possible that French drivers will ask you to agree to pay independently for damage to protect their “no claims” status so they can avoid further long-term costs.

If you have a more serious car accident in France you should:

  • Move to a safe place and alert oncoming traffic with the warning triangle
  • Contact the police or the gendarmes as soon as possible –  make sure that you can give them details of your location:

Medical – Samu – 15

Police – Gendarme – 17

Fire – Pompier – 18

If you are calling from a non-French mobile phone dial

Single European emergency call number – 112

  • Take the name and addresses and insurance details of all parties involved and the registration numbers of the vehicles.  You may be asked to fill in or sign a “constat amiable” – as above, do not sign this if you don’t understand what’s been written or disagree with what’s been written.
  • Take the names and addresses of any witnesses. Try to obtain as many as possible.
  • If you are involved in an accident involving any sort of injury – even if it is not your fault – you MUST remain until the police have come.

NB: If there are four or more people in your vehicle and only one yellow fluorescent jacket between you this may be looked on unfavourably – but whatever you do, make sure that you use the jacket.

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