In 2011, the Spanish Government began a review of the sliding scale of damages commonly used to calculate compensation claims for personal injuries suffered in Spain.
Three years on and it is now envisaged that the revised 'baremo' should come into effect in or around September 2015. In particular it should help to standardise the Spanish judiciary’s approach to the calculation of damages to be paid to a victim if he or she dies before receiving an award.
Currently, there remains a great deal of inconsistency amongst Spanish courts as to the correct approach, with some judges ordering that any associated compensation claim should be extinguished on the claimant's death. Spanish insurers usually do their best to string out a case for as long as possible, in particular if there is a reduced life expectancy resulting from the injury, in the knowledge that a claim may be nullified if a claimant dies during the course of proceedings.
The reformed baremo will ensure a claimant's beneficiaries can recover damages calculated from the date of the accident up to his or her death, taking into account the individual’s life expectancy. If the injuries were not permanent, the compensation will be calculated from the date of the accident to the time when the injuries were deemed to have healed, or to the date of death, whichever is sooner.
It is also anticipated that bereavement damages, which are rather more generous than those which one can recover in England, shall be extended to the following categories: the widowed spouse, the parents, the children, siblings and also those who had a close relationship with the victim. In the new baremo, each beneficiary who falls within this category will be entitled to compensation, and the courts shall therefore no longer adopt a hierarchical approach, with the spouse and children taking priority over siblings.
The family of the deceased shall also be entitled to claim for any future loss of earnings resulting from a family member's death. In order to benefit from this, the dependants will need to show that they were financially dependent on the victim, unless the person claiming is a spouse or a descendant under 30 years old.
The new rules are therefore favourable to claimants and should help to eradicate inconsistencies associated with the current system.