To frame my question: Someone I know, who is retired and over 70 years old, went to a new health center (baths, jacuzzis, etc.). The floor was very slippery, and had no warning signs or handles. They slipped and severely injured their arm (shattered humerus). The treatment and care are intensive, and traumatic for the patient, who needs to cancel all their plans for the next three months and get in-house help for a long time, as well as psychologic trauma help. The owner of the health center admits that people fall all the time, although no one has ever fallen and injured themselves so severely, and also claims that everything has been certified as safe by an organization.

Could the manager of the health center be liable for this injury (and its consequences for the victim)?

On what legal grounds?

Is the safety of your customers / clients part of the civil code in this particular situation?

This happens in France, under French legislation, and I would need the right Code Pénal and Code du Travail's references.

  • 1
    There's provisions in the Code Civil for remedies for negligence, but I'll need to look at the Code du Travail when I get home.
    – jimsug
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 7:18
  • Code du travail and code pénal are indeed mostly irrelevant, civil law is.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 8:40
  • What organization certifies the safety of health centers? That sounds like something that, if recognized by the government, may provide a safe harbor to the business from claims of negligence.
    – feetwet
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


Tortious liability in France

  1. Every act whatever of man that causes damage to another, obliges him by whose fault it occurred to repair it.
  2. We are responsible not only for the damage occasioned by our own act, but also by our own negligence or imprudence.

Note that my French isn't good enough to read the code and translate it myself; I'm relying on this translation.

French Civil Code Articles 1382 and 1383 provide for damages to be awarded for tortious acts, and specifically, liability for negligence.

French Civil Code Article 1384 provides for vicarious liability:

  1. We are responsible not only for the damage caused by our own act, but also for that which is caused by the acts of persons for whom we are responsible, of by things that are in our custody.
    Masters and employers, for the damage occasioned by their servants and employees in the exercise of the functions in which they are employed.

Based on my reading of this, it would seem that the owner of the business would be liable for damages caused by their neglecting to keep their premises safe.

It's possible, however, that there is provision for a claim to be dismissed if it can be show that the plaintiff was unusually susceptible or fragile unless the defendant is aware of this fact - for instance, if a normally-capable person would not have slipped on the floor, it might affect the outcome of the claim. However, this is a principle of common law, not civil law, so I'm unsure of this will apply here.

However, in short: it appears that a business would have a general duty not to cause harm to its patrons.

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