The impact of handicap and deformity of the victim of a road traffic accident on the height of the compensation
Article 931 Civil Code stipulates that “any handicap or deformity caused to the victim is taken into consideration for the award of compensation, if it affects his future”.
A “handicap” is any lack in the physical, mental or psychological integrity of the victim caused by the accident, like partial blindness, arm or leg decapitation and organ removal. “Deformity” is any serious alteration of the external appearance, for the existence of which the Court will judge not only according to the teachings of the medical science but mainly on the basis of the common concepts of life. As “Future”, finally, is considered the occupational, social and economical progress of the person. (Supr. Court 585/2015).
According to court decisions, no certainty is needed as far as the influence of the handicap and/or deformity on the person’s future is concerned, but the simple possibility of such an influence suffices. Additionally, case-law points to the teachings of common experience, according to which the handicap and deformity create special difficulties in the professional and economic sector, given the tense competition that is prevalent in these environments, even more so in times of economic recession. The influence of the handicap and/or deformity to the victim’s life is considered as a given, and doesn’t need to be specifically accounted for in the court’s decision. Damage to the body or health, as legal interests protected by article 21 of the Greek Constitution, is enough to lead to an analogous compensation specification (Supr. Court 2067/2006, Supr. Court 1645/2006).
On the other hand, it goes without saying that there is an individualized approach to every different case for the forming of a judicial decision on the compensation that needs to be provided to the victim. This means that the face deformity of a person that makes a living as an actor for example or hearing problems of a person working as a musician caused by the accident, need to be seen under the light of the negative impact these damages are expected to have on these persons and not on the basis of an objective criterion.
Of course, except for the existence of such special attributes of the victim that may lead to a larger compensation according to article 931 Civil Code, for the specification of the compensation’s height, the Court will take into account the ramifications of the handicap and/or deformity, the victim’s age and possible co-liability (Supr. Court 525/2007, Supr. Court 1645/2006).
Consequently, the handicap and deformity attributed to a road traffic accident constitute reasons for increasing the compensation, while the measure of this increase will be finally determined by the Court after a combination of criteria, either “general”, such as age and co-liability, or more “individualized”, like the victim’s occupation, if and to the extent that they are influenced more strongly by the handicap and/or deformity.