Eurojuris Law Journal-Neu


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THE PRICE OF A LIFE UNDER BELGIAN LAW

by Herman Naeyaert -Lawyer-Antwerpen 

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 his/her relatives. 
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 his/her relatives? 
Since two years the Belgian Courts use what they call an indicative scale when they grant moral damages. 
 
For example: 
- 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: 100.000,-BEF 
- 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 circumstances. 
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 examinator. 
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. 

Anmerkung:
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.). 
(Dr. Götz-Sebastian Hök, Berlin)

 

 


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