The French Approach to Financial Penalties in Personal Injury Claims

I thought this was really interesting, as I’ve recently returned from a trip to France. Whilst there I spoke with a personal injury lawyer and asked him how the law works. I ended up putting this information together after our discussion. Makes for very interesting reading if you are studying law, or wish to become a personal injury lawyer in the future in France. This is what he told me.

We must distinguish between intentional assault, involuntary assault and battery when it comes to personal injury claims resulting from criminal behaviour. Penalties are different in each case.

Assault and battery

Characterization of the facts

The intentional injury primarily target acts that harm the physical integrity of a human being. However, some psychological violence are also taken into account.

They are called volunteers when their author had the intention to commit a violent act. It is then responsible for all the consequences of this act, including those that did not want. This is the case for example of a person who, seeking only to scare or intimidate someone, hurts.

Warning: the fact that a violent act was not premeditated is not enough to call it involuntary.


Except self-defense, the punishment often depends on the intention, that is to say, the desired result: for example, the attempt is often in law, punishable in the same way that the act resulted.

However, the penalty may also depend mostly from the effects of the act complained of:

Damage suffered by the victim

  • No damage or personal injury – € 750 fine
  • Total incapacity to work of less than or equal to 8 days – € 1,500 fine (€ 3,000 for a subsequent offense)
  • Total incapacity of more than eight days work – 3 years imprisonment and 45 000? fine
  • Mutilation or permanent infirmity – 10 years imprisonment and a € 150,000 fine
  • Death (manslaughter) – 15 years imprisonment and various additional penalties
  • Death (murder) – 30 years imprisonment and various additional penalties

Aggravating circumstances

The penalties are increased if one or more of the following conditions is met:

  • the victim is under 15 or is particularly vulnerable (ill, pregnant, very old …)
  • the victim is a public official, a lawyer, a juror or person a party to proceedings,
  • a particular connection binds the author to the victim: person holding public authority, spouse, partner, child, for example.
  • the perpetrator acted with premeditation, band or weapons,
  • the perpetrator acted under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Involuntary assault and battery

Characterization of the facts

Assault and battery are involuntary when the victim has suffered damage by the fault of imprudence, negligence, or carelessness on the part of the author.

  • No damage or injury – € 150 fine
  • Total incapacity to work of less than 3 months – € 1,500 fine (€ 3,000 for a subsequent offense)
  • Temporary work incapacity of more than three months – 2 years imprisonment and a € 30,000 fine
  • Dead – 3 years imprisonment and a € 45,000 fine

These penalties may be aggravated on the same grounds as voluntary violence.

Specific aggravations exist including:

  • in the event of deliberate violation of an explicit obligation to security,
  • in case of involvement of his dog in the wounding,
  • if deliberately endangering the lives of others,
  • for the driver of a car or motorcycle in the event of default permits driving, driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs, hit and run or exceeded more than 50km / h limitation of speed.

Compensation for damage

To court

The victim of violence must file a complaint asking the author’s conviction. It will then bring a civil action to repair its damage. It shall, with the assistance of justice, prove, besides the commission of the offense by the person involved:

  • the damage suffered,
  • the causal link between the damage and the act complained of,
  • voluntariness, reckless, or negligent act complained of.

Precautions for redress

It is recommended to make difficult any subsequent dispute:

  • to provide investigators with the names and addresses of any witnesses,
  • ask them a statement in which they describe the circumstances of the assault,
  • join the complaint a medical certificate describing the injuries and the duration of the incapacity for work,
  • a declaration by a bailiff deteriorated objects and clothes and present them to the investigators for them to draw up a report,
  • provide purchase and repair bills.

If the perpetrator may not indemnify you, you can seek compensation from the victims of crime Commission (Civi) or, if Civi can not compensate you, with the support sevice recovery victims of offenses (Sarvi).