Illness or injury compensation claims in France
In this guide we explain everything you must know about making an injury or illness compensation claim in France.
Our panel of solicitors are no longer able to assist with compensation claims for accidents abroad.
The time limit (or limitation date) for making a compensation claim after an accident or illness in France will vary depending on the circumstances. Holidaymakers are advised to act quickly to ensure they have enough time to pursue a claim.
Circumstances of injury or illness
On a flight to or from France, in a hotel, or during an pre-booked excursion or activity, and where the holiday was booked through a UK-based package tour operator
Injury or illness in France during a trip that was booked privately (not booked through a UK tour operator)
10 years (time limits can vary - see Time Limit Calculator for more information)
Injury or illness during a privately-booked flight (not booked through a UK tour operator) to or from:
*Contact a specialist solicitor for more information or calculate how long you have to make a claim here.
Our network of solicitors do not currently have the capacity to take on holiday-related injury and sickness claims outside the UK. It is recommended that you contact a personal injury specialist solicitor to discuss your options as soon as possible, as some jurisdictions have limitation dates of less than the three year limit that is standard in the UK.
If you have been injured in France, your first priority will be recovering. Once you are well enough, you might consider the possibility of making a compensation claim. Even if you are unsure about making a claim for your injury or illness when you return home, there are a number of things you can do to ensure a claim is possible and to strengthen a potential injury claim.
Read more general information about holiday accident and illness claims here.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Phone 112 to speak to the French emergency services.
In France you must report crimes at a police or Gendarmerie station. In emergency situations police officers will attend and deal with the incident, but you will still need to go to the police or Gendarmerie station to make an official report and statement. It is advised to report any incidents to the Police or Gendarmerie before leaving the country.
Whether you have already returned home from France, are being treated for your injury or illness in a French hospital, or are continuing with your holiday, the following steps will ensure that you have the best possible standing when making a claim.
- Seek professional medical attention
- Contact your travel insurance provider
- Report the accident or illness
- Gather evidence
- Gather witness statements
- Contact a solicitor
In a medical emergency, phone 15 for medical aid which will put you through to the SAMU emergency service for an ambulance. You can also call 112, the standard European emergency number, but be careful if you are close to a border with another country as you may be directed to the emergency services in the neighbouring country.
British visitors to France are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC enables injured holidaymakers to seek medically necessary state-provided healthcare from a French hospital, under the same conditions as a person with French health insurance.
The EHIC does not cover travel costs or stolen property and is not a substitute for travel insurance or making a claim following an injury.
Holidaymakers to France who booked their trip through a package tour operator are protected by The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. These regulations enable people who have been injured abroad to make a claim against the UK-based holiday company through the Courts in England and Wales.
Package tour operators in France
A number of the major UK holiday companies operate package holidays to France, including Thomson, Thomas Cook, First Choice and Saga Holidays. Popular package tour resorts include Brittany, the Cote d'Azur, Paris and the Alps.
Any injury or illness experienced while holidaying in France should be reported to the tour company's representative at the resort. If there is no rep available, a report should be made to the operator's UK head office.
Some of the most popular French resorts and hotels are listed below, as promoted by tour operators in 2016:
- Sofitel Biarritz Le Miramar Thalassa, Biarritz
- Westminster Hotel & Spa, Nice
- Lois Les Vagues, Biscarrosse
- Le Resaerve, Saint-Jean-de-Luz
- Spa Marin du Val Adre, Pleneuf-Val-Andre
- Hotel Castell'Verde, Santa Giulia
- Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc, Antibes
(This information is provided for information purposes only.)
Holiday food poisoning and water-borne illness in France
France is the most common European location for British holidaymakers to suffer from food poisoning after Spain. However, the rate of illness per 100,000 is very low, at only 0.63.
Slips, trips and balcony falls
The FCO report a greater risk of balcony falls affecting British tourists. Alcohol is cited as a cause of some falls, however poor building safety standards have contributed to accidents.
The minimum permitted height in EU member states is 1m. Several countries have raised this to 1.1m.
Sports and adventure holiday accidents in France
France is a popular destination for adventure holidays including winter sports, cycling, climbing and hiking in the Alps, the Ardennes and the Pyrenees.
Although activity holidays do carry inherently higher risks, tour operator, organisers and instructors are liable for any injuries that happen as a result of their negligence, including broken bones, fractures, spinal injuries and concussion.
Road traffic accidents in France
According to Government data, the rate of road deaths in France is 5 per 100,000, compared to the UK average of 2.8. British holidaymakers are at higher risk of road traffic accidents in France due to the disadvantages of driving left-hand operated cars. French driving regulations require every car to carry a high-visibility vest and a warning triangle in the event of road accidents.
Under the Good Samaritan Law in France is it an offence not to help someone injured in an accident. France has a national fund, the Fonds de Garantie Automobile, which pays compensation to people injured and vehicles damaged by hit-and-run drivers. However, you can claim for damage to your vehicle only if the person responsible can be identified and is uninsured or insolvent.
To make a claim, those in the south-east of France should contact the Marseille office at 39 boulevard Vincent Delpuech, 13255 Marseille Cedex 06 (04 91 83 27 27), and those in all other parts of France should contact the Paris office at 64 rue de France, 94682 Vincennes Cedex (01 43 98 77 00).
If you have been injured during a non-package holiday, it is not always necessary for a French lawyer to handle the case. It may still be possible for a UK-based solicitor to pursue your claim through the Courts in England and Wales.
If you believe you may have a claim, it is recommended that you seek legal advice as soon as possible, as non-package travel claims can be complicated.
British Embassy Paris
35, rue du Faubourg St Honoré
Paris Cedex 08
British Consulate General Paris
16 rue d'Anjou
The British Embassy also provide consular services in Bordeaux and Marseilles.
Meet the QLS team
Quittance's nationwide panel of solicitors handle all types of personal injury claims and have a wealth of expertise with fast track, complex and serious injury claims. Chosen for their track record in winning claims, QLS's solicitors have years of experience recovering compensation for their clients.
About the author
With over 20 years' experience in the law, Jenny has spent the last decade specialising in personal injury, with a particular focus on industrial disease cases.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert