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Personal injury across the border

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Personal injury across the border


It is not the first thing that comes to mind when you go abroad, for example because of your holiday, but even if you are travelling abroad it is not inconceivable that you will suffer personal injury as a result of being involved in an accident. If the injury you have sustained can be attributed to another person, you can hold the person (or their insurer) liable for the damages you have suffered. The question then arises: which national law system is applicable?

Which national law system is applicable?

Main rule

If you suffer injuries abroad at the hands of another person, the main rule that applies is that the national laws of the country in which the accident occurred are applicable. This is called the ‘lex loci delicti’, which literally translates as ’the law of the crime scene’. Therefore, if a person with the Dutch nationality becomes involved in an accident in Germany, the main rule states that German law is applicable since that is the country where the accident took place.


The Convention On The Law Applicable To Traffic Accidents

Again, the main rule is the ‘lex locus delicti’. However, if you have been involved in a traffic accident in which damage has been caused to the vehicle, driver(s), goods in the vehicle, passenger(s) and/or passer-byers, the Convention may designate a different national law system. The national law applicable depends, among other things, on the nature of the accident (one-sided or multi-sided), and those involved.

Rome II Regulation

For the countries of the European Union which are members of this Regulation, including the Netherlands, the main rule is that the national law of the country where the damages and/or injuries occur as a result of the accident is applicable. This may, at first glance, sound exactly like the ‘lex locus delicti’ principle, however this is not the case. The applicable law does not depend on the country where the accident took place in, but on the country where the damages occured. An exception on this rule can be made if there is a closer relationship with another country. For example: if all those involved come from the same country, the law of that country may apply, despite the accident taking place in another country.


Given the main rule whereby the law of the country in which the accident happened applies, it can be difficult for you to hold the other party liable and claim your damages. After all, you are most likely not familiar with the relevant national legislation. However, even if your own national law applies, it is preferable to seek professional legal aid.
We recommend taking the following steps if you are involved in an accident:

  • Call the local police and register the other party’s data
  • If necessary, you should seek immediate medical attention
  • Keep all receipts or invoices related to the costs you have made as a result of the accident
  • Seek professional legal aid in your home country


If you have suffered personal injury abroad or in your home country, you can contact our personal injury law specialists mr. Willeke Krieger (+31 53-3033002 or krieger@tlcadvocaten.nl) or mr. Anne Hoekman (+31 53-3033003 of hoekman@tlcadvocaten.nl).