THE PRICE OF A LIFE UNDER
Is it true that a human life in
Belgium is more worth than somewhere else?
Is it true that victims of accidents, or their relatives, are financially
treated better in Belgium than somewhere else?
The Belgian law has a wide range of compensations in favour of the victim and
Moral damages compensate the pain and suffering caused by an accident occured
to a beloved relative.
This kind of compensation does not exist in all European countries. However,
as soon as the accident occured in Belgium, the relatives are entitled to
moral damages, notwithstanding the nationality of the victim, according to the
rule "lex locus delicti".
Courts grant moral damages "ex aequo et bono" on a basis of equity. The
concrete circumstances remain very important: did the child live with his
parents or not? "Was there any particular affection between the victim and
Since two years the Belgian Courts use what they call an indicative scale when
they grant moral damages.
- for the loss of a husband/wife: 350.000,-BEF
- for the loss of a child or parents: 150.000,-BEF till 300.000,-BEF depending
whether the child or the parent lived in the same house as the deceased;
- loss of a finance, a brother or sister, grandparents or a grandchild:
- loss of an aunt, a nephew, an uncle: 20.000,-BEF
This scale, drafted by a commission composed by judges, lawyers and insurers,
is often used but is not binding. When the courts grant moral damages, every
individual case will be considered, taking into account the concrete
The compensation for loss of earnings is of course much more important and
depends, once again, from the concrete circumstances such as income, age, size
of the family, was he the only breadwinner, etc...
The loss of earnings is calculated not only on the basis of the salary.
Promotions, increase of salary, the amount of the expected pension, etc. play
an important role in the assessment of the compensation.
Since a few years the courts attribute also a compensation for what they call
" economical value in the householding". The death of a housewife obliges her
widower to seek help from outside for cleaning, preparing the meals, etc...
Courts assess this extra damages up to 700,-BEF per day as from the date oft
the accident and covering the normally expected lifetime of the widow(er).As
any discrimination on the basis of sexes is legally forbidden, this kind of
compensation is attributed to widows and widowers.
An other item of damages to be compensated is aesthetical damage. This damage
is taxed on a scale from 1 to 7. Here again, the court will evaluate the
concrete circumstances, on the basis of a report issued by a medical
A scar over the leg of a 40 year old man shall be considered as 1 or 2 on this
scale. However, the same scar on the same place on a leg of a beauty queen of
22 years will be considered as 4 to 5. A fotomodel or a mannequin will even be
entitled to claim a compensation for loss of earnings.
To this list of damages can be added the pretium voluptatis being damages
sustained by loss of sexual pleasure or impotence.
In exceptional circumstances Courts can grant a compensation for postlucrative
damage. This compensation covers the income that the victim should normally
have earned after his retirement by doing some work. (50.000 to 150.000 BEF)
Even damages for loss of schoolyear caused by an accident can be claimed. The
court will grant between 90.000,-BEF (young student of 15 years) up to
200.000,-BEF and 300.000,-BEF for an university student.
The conclusion is that foreigners involved in p.ex. a road traffic accident in
Belgium might be better compensated than in their own country ( lex loci
delicti ). The logical counterbalance of this statement is that premiums of
Belgian carinsurancepolicies are higher than in other countries.
Herr Kollege Naeyaert aus Antwerpen beschreibt, wie großzügig das belgische
Recht die Opfer und ihre Anverwandten im Falle unerlaubter Handlungen
entschädigt. Aus deutscher Sicht ist zwischen der Haftung für Schäden
einerseits und dem Ausgleich des moralischen Schadens andererseits zu
unterscheiden. Das deutsche Recht steht dem Ausgleich moralischer Schäden
skeptisch gegenüber. Schmerzensgeld erhält nach § 847 BGB nur das Opfer für
die persönlich erlittenen Verletzungen. Angehörige werden gemäß § 844 BGB
lediglich wegen entgangenen Unterhalts entschädigt. Einen Anspruch auf
Liquidation eines Schmerzensgeldes gewährt das deutsche Recht dem Angehörigen
nicht. Dieser kann lediglich den sog. Schockschaden geltend machen. Dazu muß
eine eigene psychische Beeinträchtigung vorliegen (vgl. dazu eingehend
Deutsch, Allgemeines Haftungsrecht, 2. Auflage, Rn. 913 ff.). Die Höhe des
Schmerzengeldes wird in der deutschen Praxis aus Tabellen ermittelt (vgl. die
Beck´sche Schmerzensgeldtabelle; ADAC-Handbuch etc.).
Götz-Sebastian Hök, Berlin)