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Calculation of car accident damages

יהודה אלחרר
יהודה אלחרר

How do we calculate the damages of vehicle collision victims in Israel? The calculation of car accident damages is based on several variables. Among other things, the personal characteristics of the accident victims, the type of damages they suffered, whether the accident caused permanent or temporary disability, the type of treatment and assistance that the accident victims require, past and future loss of wages and other financial losses, as well as pain and suffering. In this article, Attorney Moti Orange, our expert on tort law and damage claims for car accident victims, explains how these variables and other characteristics are reflected in the calculation of damages.

What are the compensation amounts to which victims of car accidents are entitled?

Over 20,000 people are injured in Israel every year in traffic accidents, according to the data of the National Road Safety Authority. Many of the people behind this horrific number suffer from physical and mental injuries, which they suffer from for many years after the accident, and sometimes even for the rest of their lives. This damage may leave people who were perfectly healthy before the accident in a state of dependency, with no ability to work and in need of daily assistance to perform daily activities. In other cases, the victims of the accident suffer from post-trauma and mental distress that requires support from professionals in the field of mental health.

The aforementioned types of assistance involve huge financial expenses, which the victims of the accident usually cannot, and should not, pay for on their own. The law in Israel acknowledges this and offers an orderly legal framework for compensating traffic accident victims. These damages are calculated according to “heads of damage,” the legal term for the components of the damage. In other words, each category of damage that the accident victims suffered or are suffering from may award them a distinct amount of compensation.

Calculation of car accident damages

The types of damage categories and amounts vary from one case to another, so it is not possible to know the exact amount that will be awarded in a specific case. It is clear though that the courts in Israel award damages to the victims of car accidents that may reach hundreds of thousands and even millions of shekels, when calculating the total amount of damages. Below we will explain in detail the factors that form the basis for the calculation of damages for car accident victims.

What is the main data that will be taken into account when calculating damages?

As mentioned above, damages are awarded based on the heads of damage (heads of torts) claimed for the accident. Before we present the main types of heads of damage, it is important to clarify that the courts and insurance companies also attribute great importance to the personal characteristics of the accident victims, and especially to their age and their earning capacity (before and after the accident).

The courts also take into account the scope of disability of the victims (to the extent such exists), as calculated by the National Insurance Institute in claims to determine and calculate disability percentages. The damages for each of the heads of damage will be calculated according to all this information. The age of the victims will also form the base for calculating the damages according to the standard life expectancy. The salary before the accident and the amount of the disability and the loss of earning capacity will generally form the basis for calculating a percentage of damages (although there may be exceptions to this rule, such as cases in which the accident victims were minors).

What are the main heads of damage according to which damages for car accident victims are calculated?

The heads of damages which accident victims may be entitled to claim include both damages that happened in the past (that is, from the date of the accident to the date of the claim) and damages that will occur in the future. Heads of damage relating to the condition of the victims in the past may include loss of earnings resulting from their inability to work, fully or partially; expenses for medical treatments (including surgeries, therapy, medicine, and more); travel expenses (incurred due the inability to drive their vehicle on their own); and a head of damage known as “assistance from others,” which refers to payments and financial losses that resulted from the need to receive assistance from others (including nursing care, cleaning services, childcare, etc.) from the date of the accident to the date of the claim.

Heads of damage that try to foresee the future may include, among others, the same components that we mentioned above, but they will be based on an assessment of the future condition of the accident victims. That is, future wage losses (which can be proven according to the duration of the period of loss of earning capacity established by the National Insurance or the estimated earning potential according to the circumstances of the case); travel expenses that the victims of the accident will need; expenses for future medical treatments; and assistance from others in the future. Another head of damage may be added to the aforementioned, which is usually calculated on the basis of the direct impression of the court in view of the difficulty in quantifying the damages on which it is based. This head of damage is called “pain and suffering,” and it will be calculated according to various parameters that are also based on the circumstances of the case.

Who performs the actual calculation?

As a general rule, the calculation of damages for traffic accident victims is performed by the court in damage claims submitted according to the Compensation for Traffic Accident Victims Law (or, in cases where the law does not apply, according to other legal arrangements such as the Tort Ordinance). A medical expert will usually be appointed to assist the court in the task of calculating damages. In cases where the road accident is considered a work accident, the medical expert will be an expert from the National Insurance Institute.

Not every damage claim for a car accident will be calculated this way. There are cases where the parties (mostly the victims of the accident and the insurance companies) will reach a settlement agreement. There are also cases where the decision on the claim will be based on a general estimate. In any case, in order to get an assessment of the damages of the accident as well as to understand the damage calculation in specific cases, it is recommended to consult a lawyer who specializes in tort law and represents victims of road accidents.

Calculating damages for car accident victims – contact a lawyer who specializes in tort and traffic law

In this article, we have explained in detail how damages for car accident victims are calculated. If you need legal advice or any assistance and response in matters of traffic accidents and personal injuries, a lawyer from our office will be happy to be at your service and provide you with a comprehensive and professional response. Our office, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in tort law and representing victims of car accidents and work accidents in all courts, claims against insurance companies and the National Insurance Institute.

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