Sarah Bright Thomas is an Avocat Associé and Partner at Bright Avocats answers a car insurance query
John G writes
My insurance company won’t pay out after two dogs chased my car. I swerved, going into a ditch, but one of them hit the car. I have damage to the underside and the owner of the dogs refuses to admit fault. So I am faced with a €1200 bill or loss of my insurance bonus. What can I do?
In answer to this car insurance query, Sarah writes:
French law is clear in your case: the owner of the dogs is responsible for the damages they have caused, even if the dogs had escaped. Therefore, the owner must pay compensation.
From a practical point of view, the law has changed recently and for any litigation under 5.000€, before any court case, you must have tried to resolve the issue amicably through a conciliator or a mediator. Only if the amicable resolution has failed, will you be allowed to take the matter to court.
However, we all know that when you initiate a court procedure for a relatively small amount, you have already tried everything to resolve the situation amicably yourself. Therefore, in order to circumvent this issue and the delays incurred by this mediation which can take months to organise, if you find a conciliator or mediator who is not too overworked already, the only option is to increase your demands which means, for the owner of the dog, that it is no longer a 1200€ bill he is facing but more than 5000€. All the more reason for him to admit fault.
A car insurance query answered
First published in the Feb-Apr 2021 issue of The Local Buzz
Images: Shutterstock and Bright Avocats