Am I Legally Obliged To Help In France?

28th September 2011

Whilst I was training a group on Monday, I was asked what the legal ‘First Aid’ responsibilities are for members of the public in France. This is what I found out from the French Penal Code (Article 223-5, previously Article 63):

In France, the legal responsibilities of a member of the public, who sees someone injured or unwell is a little different from in Switzerland.

Firstly, someone who sees, or causes, an accident MUST stop and offer assistance. This assistance may be:
(1) To call 112 (or 15, or 18) for the emergency services, and/or
(2) To help the person(s) in danger by giving First Aid.

It is best to do both if you can – as long as there is no danger to your own safety, or the safety of a third person.

If the person trying to help doesn’t have sufficient First Aid training, then it is better to just call the emergency services than to try to give help that may further harm the injured person.

What might happen if a member of the public doesn’t stop and call for help?
They can be punished by law with imprisonment up to seven years and 100,000 euros.

This law refers to an ordinary member of the public who has or has not followed any First Aid Training. Doctors, nurses and paramedics have stricter legal obligations.

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