The new Act 35/2015, of September 22, on appraising damages to persons caused by traffic accidents, is currently approved and shall take effect on January 1, 2016.
Its first chapter addresses general provisions and definitions and the second includes the rules for evaluating bodily harm and, in its three sections, addresses compensation for death, for after effects (previously called permanent injuries) and temporal injuries that are listed in Tables 1, 2, and 3, respectively.
The objectives of the reform include, in addition to a sensible update to the general amounts of damages, the legislature’s intention to include new appraisal criteria that require that the aggrieved be more fairly compensated in an objective manner.
Article 33, section 2, of Act 35/2015, establishes that the principle of comprehensive relief has as its objective to ensure full compensation for damages incurred, not just for the property consequences of the damage but also for the moral or non-property consequences.
Article 33 also describes the previously mentioned principle of structured relief, which refers to the need to evaluate property and non-property damages separately, and within one or the other, to separate the different categories of damage in order to prevent gaps and overlaps. The practical applications of this principle are extensively described in Article 33 and the Appendix, containing more than 500 pages.
It lists cases of (i) death, (ii) temporary injuries, and (iii) after effects, by means of non-property damage, in turn listed as «basic personal injury», «specific personal injury», and property damage as «property damage».
This principle is supplemented by the principle of objective appraisal, also regulated by Article 33, which states that compensation shall be determined according to the rules and limitations established by the system, for which reason compensation cannot be awarded for items or amounts other than those provided for in the Law.
The Scale of Compensation set out in the Act 35/2015 have repercussions not only in the area of extracontractual civil liability arising from traffic accidents, but also is applicable as a guideline for setting damages in other areas of extracontractual and contractual liability as well (medical negligence, employer liability, etc.).
Pedro Abad and Eduardo Zalvide