Regional Court in Katowice: age cannot determine amount of compensation
The Regional Court in Katowice increased the amount of compensation for a moral loss awarded to an elderly person who had suffered injuries in a traffic accident. Accordingly, the Court changed the judgement of the 1st instance court, in which the victim’s age had been considered a reason for awarding lower compensation.
Accident and first judgment
Let us remind our readers the facts of the case. In 2012 Mr Czajewicz was hit by a car. The incident happened on a pavement. Mr Czajewicz underwent complicated treatment, but never regained his previous physical fitness. He became dependant on others. The victim considered the amount paid to him by the perpetrator’s insurer insufficient and sued the perpetrator for compensation for a moral loss, seeking the award of PLN 50,000.
In 2016, District Court in Sosnowiec awarded the compensation to Mr Czajewicz but limited its amount to PLN 10,000. In the judgment, the court acknowledged that as a result of the accident the man needed to change his everyday life and constrain his activities. However, despite this, the court found that the consequences of the accident should be looked at differently in respect of elderly people (for more information about the judgement, use this link).
The attorney of Mr Czajewicz lodged an appeal against the above judgment, whereas the HFHR presented an amicus curiae brief. The Foundation noted in the brief that using an injured party’s age as a factor determining the amount of compensation for a moral loss may be a discriminatory practice.
Regional Court increased amount of compensation for moral loss
The Regional Court in Katowice awarded PLN 10,000 more in compensation for a moral loss. This means that Mr Czajewicz received a total of PLN 40,000 in compensation for a moral loss connected with the accident. Although he has not obtained the whole amount sought, the court considered all circumstances of the case. The Regional Court in Katowice ruled that the District had failed to thoroughly examine the case. “We have stressed this aspect in our statement. We noted that the life situation of Mr Czajewicz had worsened significantly since the accident and that first of all this fact should be considered in determining the amount of compensation for a moral loss”, says Adam Klepczyński, an HFHR lawyer. “The Court also underlined the function of compensation for a moral loss and noted that this remedy was different from “ordinary” damages. Compensation for a moral loss serves a compensatory function and a number of factors must be taken into account in determining its amount, such as a degree of physical and psychological suffering experienced by a given person”, adds Mr Klepczyński.
“The attorney’s appeal and the intervention of the Foundation brought about positive results because the Court increased the amount of compensation. The Court reckoned that the amount of compensation should be determined based on the consequences of the accident and negative changes in a victim’s life and not his or her advanced age”, notes Dr Dorota Pudzianowska, an HFHR lawyer. “The portion of the judgment in which the Court notes that age cannot be the only factor considered in deciding about an award of compensation for a moral loss will be important for all elderly people seeking such compensation in court”, adds Dr Pudzianowska.