Italy: How To Quantify Damages In Personal Injury Cases In Italy

Last Updated: 15 November 2013
Article by Piero Mastrosimone

If you have been involved in a car accident in Italy and have suffered damages, there are a few important things you need to note. As any Italian Lawyer will tell you; according to Italian Law, the person who caused the damage has the duty to restore the victim back to the position they would have been in if the damage had not occurred – as set out in articles 2043 and 2054 of the Civil Code.  To quantify the amount of damage, it is important to know that the Italian Civil Code identifies a distinction between patrimonial damages and non-patrimonial damages; now let's take a look at this important distinction.

Patrimonial damages relate to a financial loss, that is when fault or negligence harms the economic assets of the injured party directly. There are two different sub-categories of patrimonial damages: consequential damage and monetary loss.  "Consequential damage" is defined as the immediate and direct consequence of the damage that caused the economic loss. This sub-category is comprised of the expenses for medical treatment and cures – it also includes the loss and damage of the victim's goods. Consequential damage needs to be proven, and the compensation will take place only once substantial evidence of the expenses is presented. "Monetary loss" relates to the reduction in profits – or personal income – suffered as a direct cause of the injury. This means that all incomes lost as a result of the accident will be compensated; this includes losses that have already taken place and those that will take place in the future.  According to articles 2056 and 1226 of the Civil Code, assessment of monetary loss must be proven – otherwise damages shall be deemed as non-refundable.  This proof is required even in cases where monetary loss is presumed as being obvious. It is therefore mandatory to show substantial evidence of the economic loss.  This is done by using objective elements to demonstrate that these monetary gains would have been secured, which in turn shows the amount of monetary losses.  In addition, it must be proven that the damage caused is closely related to injury sustained or that it is a direct consequence of the injury.

Non-patrimonial Damages  occur when an intentional or negligent act causes a personal injury. Like patrimonial damages, there are two types of non-patrimonial damages: biological damage and moral damages. "Biological Damage"relates to the physical, mental and social damages.  The most recent definition of biological damage is provided in articles 138 and 139 of the Code of the Insurances, which define this category of damage as, "the temporary or permanent injury to the reduction of psycho-physical integrity of a person, regardless of the person's capacity to produce an income." Biological Damage is divided into two sub-categories: temporary disabilityandpermanent disability.   "Temporary disability" is obtained by calculating the total number of days needed to recover from the accident.  It takes into consideration the natural capacity of the body to recover and the treatments needed to restore the original psycho-physical conditions of the victim – and it is measured in days. If the injured person is unable to perform any activity, the temporary disability shall be deemed total.  In cases where the injury suffered prevents the victim from performing only some activities, the temporary disability will be deemed as limited.  In both cases, the temporary disability will still be measured in days; however, the latter will only be considered as a minor incident. "Permanent disability"indicates the reduction in mental and physical health for conditions that are not curable, and it is expressed as a percentage. Pursuant to article 61 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the assessment of the personal injury must be carried out by a forensic expert of medical science. In contrast, the assessment of the biological damage is made by applying predetermined criteria provided by the law – ordered by the court or tribunal.  The most commonly applied criteria is the one provided by the Tribunal of Milan, although some other tribunals have created their own. Such criteria and standards are based on a "variable index", which is a fixed amount of money for a given percentage of disability.  The sum of money increases with the percentage of disability; however, it decreases in relation to the age of the injured person. "Moral damages"consist of the moral harm, anxiety, distress and offence to a person's general well being. Accordingly, the assessment of the quantum of moral damages is related to the percentage of biological damage – up to 20%.  This is in accordance with article 139 of Legislative Decree of 7 September 2005 n. 209 (Code of Insurances), which also provides the power to increase the sum of compensation. In conclusion, we can see that there are different ways to quantify damages caused as a result of an accident and many different factors to take into account – most importantly the distinction between patrimonial and non-patrimonial damages.  In the event that you are a victim of a car accident in Italy, it is recommended that you contact an  English speaking Italian Law firm.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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