Whether a foreigner or a citizen, anyone who suffers an injury in Italy is subject to the Italian legal system for compensation.
To be entitled to compensation, the injury must not be self-inflicted, but must result from the negligent behavior-active or passive-of another person.
This is a collective term, but at the same time a single figure of damage, which assesses all the circumstances of an injury that do not directly affect a person’s property. In other words, everything that does not damage a person’s property, such as rear-ending a car, falls under this term.
The central manifestation of non-asset damage is bodily injury or what is known in Italy as biological damage.
Biological damage is a physical and/or psychological injury to a person that gives rise to a claim for compensation.
This injury must be medically assessed and can affect the life of the person affected in several ways. A medical examiner evaluates the injury with percentage points, which are in turn used for calculation using the tabular system.
Non-pecuniary damage refers not only to the consequences that an event may have on a person’s ability to carry out his or her normal work activities, but also to the consequences that may affect his or her social and cultural life and appearance, as well as projecting into the future.
A wide range of factors are included, such as:
- physical appearance (e.g., an obvious scar on the face);
- ability to relate to others (e.g., opportunities for sexual interaction, etc.);
- impact on a person’s specific preferences (e.g., can no longer play soccer but has always played in the club, etc.).
- Psychological impact of all these factors;
- Missed opportunities, etc;
- Loss of a family relationship (e.g., loss of father).
This category includes all documented direct damage, such as a collision with a car, as well as lost earnings, caused, for example, by the loss of working days or damage to work equipment. This is a somewhat narrower category than non-pecuniary damage, mainly because the assessment leaves relatively little room for manoeuvre.
Calculation of damages
The number of noneconomic damages cannot be determined with mathematical precision and must be assessed appropriately by the court. This is done, of course, with the help of expert reports and tables, which are intended to ensure a uniform assessment of damages throughout the country. Finally, the court must justify the quantification in the reasons for the judgment.
The amount of compensation for biological damage is calculated primarily on the basis of the type of disability, that is, whether it is “temporary” or “permanent.”
Temporary disability corresponds to the number of days in which the injured person was totally or partially unable to work (the percentage of days in which he or she was unable to lead a normal life is taken into account); permanent disability, on the other hand, does not have to do with the injury itself, but with the consequences it caused, which last for a longer period of time.
It is the medical examiner who determines what kind of disability it is by examining the victim, assessing all the consequences the injury has caused in every aspect of life, and declaring the percentage of permanent disability he or she finds in the case.
Widely standardized court tables are used to calculate compensation for biological damage. They contain a series of figures that vary according to the age of the injured person and the degree of disability ascertained by the medical examiner.
Since the law provides precise figures for calculating compensation only in the case of “micropermanent” injuries (i.e., those not exceeding 9 points of disability), in more serious cases, tables developed by different courts are used. The most widely used are the Milan tables.
In the other circumstances of non-pecuniary damage to be assessed, there is a lot of discretion and there can also be interesting deviations in the assessment of damages, which can be excluded in the case of pecuniary damage, since in this case it is usually possible to make clear assessments based on the evidence taken.
Examples of compensation amounts:
Here are some examples from practice:
- A person has most of his big toe amputated as a result of a medical liability accident. The medical examiner determines a disability of 18%. Amount claimed according to the Milan tables: 95,000 euros.
- A person suffers a ruptured spleen and other injuries after a sledding accident, has to undergo several operations with complications. The medical examiner determines a disability of 16%. Sum claimed according to the Milan tables 139,000 €.
- A minor child is hit by a truck and suffers fatal injuries. The parents are the injured parties for the loss of their son due to death; the damages are 100%. Sum claimed according to the Milan tables €1.35 million.