The notion of  “involvement” within the meaning of Badinter Law on road traffic accidents

by | 9 Feb 2023

The law n°85-677 of 5 July 1985 “tending to improve the situation of victims of road traffic accidents and to accelerate compensation procedures” (also known as the “Badinter law”) set up a compensation regime exclusive of any other liability regime, and particularly favorable to victims who do not have to prove the fault of the author of the accident.

One of the main criteria for the implementation of this regime is the involvement of a motor vehicle in the accident.

Article 1 subjects its applicability to the occurrence of “a road traffic accident in which a motorised vehicle and its trailers or semi-trailers are involved, with the exception of railways and tramways running on their own tracks“.

 The notion of involvement differs according to whether or not the motor vehicle and/or its accessories came into contact with the site of the damage:

  • In the event of a physical contact, this contact is sufficient to characterize an “involvement” within the meaning of the above-mentioned provision, whether the vehicle was moving, stationary or parked at the time of the accident. For example, a motor vehicle will be “involved” in the event of a collision, chain collision, pile-up or impact of any kind with the victim, even if the vehicle is parked.

Since material contact is the criterion for involvement, a parked vehicle hit by a cyclist is, for example, “involved” in a traffic accident under the Badinter Law.

 In the case of a complex accident where several collisions follow one another, the French Cour de Cassation considers that all the vehicles are “involved” within the meaning of the law, even if some of the vehicles in the accident did not come into contact with one another. The accident is thus understood as a whole to facilitate the implementation of the compensation regime.

  • In the absence of a physical contact, “involvement” requires that the motor vehicle played a role in the occurrence of the accident. The question is whether or not the accident would have occurred without the presence of the vehicle. Contrary to involvement by contact, the mere presence of a vehicle at the scene of a road traffic accident is not sufficient to implement the Badinter regime. On the other hand, the law does not require that the vehicle had an abnormal or disruptive role.

Within the meaning of the law, a vehicle can thus be “involved” in the accident of the one that overtook it, without contact between them.

The burden of proof of the involvement of the motor vehicle lies with the victim of the accident, who must demonstrate: 

– The existence of a material contact between the vehicle and the site of the damage,

– Or, in the absence of contact, any role played by the vehicle in causing the accident.