By Margot Nicodeme
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They are the ones who remain, once the media coverage and the collective emotion have passed. The relatives of road casualties have to face, beyond the sometimes impossible mourning, a trying legal battle to obtain redress. Me Antoine Régley, lawyer at Lille Bar (North), has made it a priority to support these families, some of whom have been harmed because of what he calls “sometimes dishonest insurance proposals”. In the cases ofmanslaughterspecifically, vulnerability and ignorance of one’s rights are factors that benefit insurance companies, which are unscrupulous when it comes to offering “extraordinarily low” compensation to families, according to the lawyer.
He, only 36 years old, aims, more and more, to thwart the traps. Maintenance.
News: You are a road rights lawyer. What is your background ?
Me Antoine Regley: I have been a lawyer for 10 years and for 8 years at the Lille Bar. I was a criminal at the start. There is a turning point: I wanted to put my skills at the service of road victims, to counter the dishonesty of insurance, without wanting to generalize, or at least to the dishonest proposals they could To do. The skill that I have acquired over the past few years, I put it better at the service of the victims, because I know the arguments of the authors [d’homicides] and their insurers.
In the case of manslaughter, what is compensated?
AR: First, moral damage. There are ranges, which are provided for by what is called the Mornet report and the Dintilhac Nomenclature. These are two references, which say that when you are the parent of a deceased child, it will be between 25 and 30,000 euros, when you lose a brother or a sister, it will be between 10 and 15,000 euros… On the principle, the fact of baremizing, that scandalizes me. It has no force of law, nowhere in the law is there a minimum, nowhere is there a maximum. It also means that we do not take into account the particularities of certain families.
The other big damage is the economic damage. It aims to repair the loss of income suffered by the household that loses a member. The missing income is multiplied by 12, which gives an annual income, which is itself multiplied by a ‘capitalisation index’. This is a salary supplement, which a spouse, for example, will have until the end of his life. And on top of that, insurers try to make as much money as possible by offering incredibly low sums.
Do you have an example?
AR: I remember a mother who lost her husband, she was offered 18,000 euros, we got 35,000 euros for moral damages. The same for the brothers and sisters, the proposals were 6 or 7,000, we got twice that. But not a line for economic damage, because insurance rarely offers it. I called the insurance in question, suddenly the mother received 500,000 euros.
These are hundreds of thousands of euros to which people are entitled, and they do not know it. And when it’s too late, it’s too late.
Because it is always the insurance companies that pay?
AR: In the best case, it is the insurance of the vehicle of the author of the manslaughter. You have to call them to come to the trial, this is called a mis en cause, because you can’t enforce the judgment on them if they don’t come. And if they are not called to the cause, they will pay nothing.
If there is no insurance, you have to see with the insurer of the victims if it supports, which is rare. Otherwise, there is what is called the guarantee fund, which will advance the funds and then turn against the author.
In concrete terms, how do they “deceive” bereaved relatives?
AR: Insurance is the adversary that we don’t see coming: it claims to be on our side, it manifests itself extremely quickly to try to pay sums that we consider to be large when they are not. They say to themselves that there is no lawyer and offer, for example, 18,000 euros, people say to themselves: ‘I need it, I’ll take it’. And above all, they tell themselves that the lawyer is expensive. And there too, we have an answer to offer.
Because your fees are reimbursed after a successful trial?
AR: The lawyer is obliged to take a fixed sum, which can be paid by legal aid for those who are entitled to it. Otherwise, you can go through your own legal protection. This sum will in any case be reimbursed in full by the opposing insurance, whether it is condemned by the court or that we agree amicably. So the lawyer is not expensive.
Then comes the percentage you take out of what you get for the family at the end. We realized that with a lawyer, the indemnities generally go up by 30%. The families thus earn 30% and give 10% to the lawyer. It’s a win for everyone.
Do you only defend road victims? Or also the authors of accidents?
AR: I think that I was, at the beginning of my career, a lawyer of files, but I am a lawyer more and more turned to the people. But I never defend the crime, I always defend the man or the woman behind it. I wanted to be a lawyer first to defend those who had lost their way, but not to defend their facts. I must admit that I have a real sensitivity now for road victims, yes, I want to turn more and more towards this clientele.
And for the road victims who fortunately did not die, how is it?
AR: What is similar in the case of unintentional injuries is that the opponent is the insurance. But the indemnity course is different: expertise by a doctor to know the sequelae, then the trial. It’s longer, more complex, and at all stages of the procedure, you can be fooled by insurance. There are many damages to be compensated: an adapted wheelchair, as well as prostheses, a car, housing costs… Perhaps even more than for manslaughters, the lawyer is absolutely necessary.
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