How is the car accident suffered by an elected representative taken care of in the course of his duties?
On the one hand, under Articles L.2123-31 and L.2123-33 of the General Code of Local Authorities, “municipalities are responsible for damages resulting from accidents suffered by mayors, deputies and presidents of special delegations in the exercise of their functions” and “municipalities are responsible for damages suffered by councilors councils and special delegates when they are victims of accidents occurring either during meetings of municipal councils or meetings of commissions and boards of directors of municipal social action centers of which they are members, or during of the execution of a special mandate”.
On the other hand, the motor insurance obligation (article L.211-1 of the Insurance Code) requires the owner of a vehicle to take out a compulsory automobile insurance contract covering the driver’s civil liability. The elected official must naturally take out insurance to cover his personal vehicle, which will be used for the management of any claim involving this vehicle.
Damage to a third party. When the elected representative carries out a mission on behalf of the local authority, custody of the elected official’s personal vehicle is transferred to this authority. If the elected official causes damage to a third party, the civil liability of the community may be engaged. The bodily injury that the elected official would have suffered from his own fault while exercising his functions as an elected official can be covered by the insurer of the community, in addition to any guarantees taken out by the elected official. The material damage that the elected official would have suffered from his own fault while exercising his elective functions can, in addition to the optional guarantees (all risks) taken out by the elected official, be borne by the insurer of the community if the latter has taken out specific insurance covering this type of damage.
Finally, generally speaking, a local elected official is only civilly liable, when in office, for personal faults that he is likely to commit. Therefore, on the occasion of an accident, a fortuitous event of which the elected official is the victim and a fault in the service or a personal fault can coexist. When the elected official has a share of responsibility in the occurrence of the accident, he benefits from the protection of the community, except in the case of personal fault. From this stems the part of the assumption of responsibility, by the various insurances of the community or the elected official, of the various compensations.
Vis-à-vis third parties, the implementation in the event of an accident of the personal “civil liability” guarantee of elected officials is in principle rarer, in particular because of the old jurisprudential construction of the “accumulation of liability” which leads the third-party victims to seek first and foremost the responsibility and compensation of the public body rather than the elected official, the community retaining the possibility of exercising a recourse action.