Falling while removing snow from a car is considered to be a work-related accident (“accident de trajet”)

In a recent case before the French Supreme Court, an employee had fallen and hurt himself while removing snow from his car in an outdoor parking space in front of his home.

The issues raised in this case were the following:

  • the employee had certainly left home, but before driving away, he decided to clean the snow from his car ;
  • to take account of the longer travelling time due to the weather conditions, he left home earlier than usual.

Did these factors prevent the employee’s accident from being classified as a work-related accident?

For the record, an accident is deemed to be a work-related accident (“accident de trajet”) if it occurs between:

  • the employee’s main residence, a secondary residence or any place to which the employee usually goes for family reasons and the workplace ; or
  • the workplace and the restaurant, canteen of the workplace or, more generally, the place where the employee usually takes their meals, provided that the travel has not been interrupted or diverted for a reason of personal interest of the employee.

The qualification of a work-related accident begins or ends at the boundary between the employee’s main residence – point of departure of the travel – and the place of work that the employee is joining or leaving.

In this case the health insurance fund (“CPAM”) refused to cover the employee, and so he went to court and obtained the recognition of a work-related accident.  The CPAM appealed this decision arguing that the travel had not begun because the employee was only preparing it by removing the snow. The Court of Appeal sided with the employee as did the French Supreme Court.  

The French Supreme Court indeed followed the Court of Appeal’s approach, which had ruled that this was a work-related accident because:

  • the employee had left his residence and its facilities (the parking was indeed outdoor) when the accident occurred ;
  • the time of the accident was compatible with the necessary precautions taken by the employee to anticipate the traffic difficulties due to the weather and to be able to get to work at his usual time;
  • the employee did not interrupt or divert his travel between home and work for a reason dictated by personal interest.

Cass. 2e civ., 29 févr. 2024, n° 22-14.592.