Filing a negligence lawsuit in Israel – how to receive financial compensation
Do you need to file a negligence lawsuit in Israel but don’t know what amount of compensation you should sue for? Have you suffered harm because of a medically negligent physician and need to file a medical malpractice claim? Or were you perhaps sold defective products by a careless manufacturer and need to know how Israeli courts treat product liability?
The following article will explain the basics of filing a negligence lawsuit in Israel. Please contact us directly if you still have additional questions regarding suing in Israel for financial compensation or if you need the assistance of Israeli negligence lawyers. Our law firm has offices in Tel-Aviv and in Jerusalem and we would be glad to meet with you. You can call 03-3724722 or email us at [email protected].
What is the legal definition of negligence?
In Israeli civil law, negligence refers to harm that a person causes someone else as the result of carelessness. It is considered a “civil wrong”. Therefore, a victim of negligence has the right to file a claim for financial compensation. The purpose of the civil lawsuit is to provide you with a monetary remedy for the damage that you endured, instead of merely punishing the negligent individual. The damages should take into consideration both your material losses as well as your pain and suffering.
The statute of limitations
All civil lawsuits in Israel are subject to a statute of limitations, also known as a prescriptive period. In other words, there is a limited time period in which you may file a lawsuit after suffering from an act of negligence. In most cases, the limit is seven years, as legislated in the Law of Prescription (1958). Additionally, the longer you wait before preparing for a negligence lawsuit the more difficult it will be to gather the necessary documentation and evidence to prove your case. Therefore, if you have been the victim of negligence it is important that you contact a civil attorney as soon as possible in order to file a negligence lawsuit in Israel in a timely manner.
What is required to win a negligence lawsuit in Israel?
There are four elements that are required for an act to be considered negligence by the courts:
- The defendant must have had a duty of care towards the claimant.
- They must have acted in a way that deviated from the acceptable behavior of a reasonable person (known as “a breach of duty”).
- The claimant of the lawsuit must have experienced harm or losses of some sort.
- It must be demonstrable that the defendant’s breach of duty is the cause of the harm or losses.
In order to prove all of the above in a way that is convincing to the courts, it is crucial that you hire the services of Israeli negligence lawyers who have the required legal expertise, including knowledge of relevant judicial precedents. It is often important to cite legal precedents in order for a negligence lawsuit in Israel to be successful.
What qualifies as a duty of care?
“Duty of care” is a technical term in tort law. The duty of care is not dependent on a specific contract or on a particular legal statute. Instead, it refers to every person’s basic duty to act with adequate care and caution so as to not cause harm to others. The equivalent Hebrew term is hovat zehirut, which literally means “a duty of caution”. It has been established through legal precedent that certain social and professional relations include an inherent duty of care. For instance, a doctor has a duty of care towards their patients and an employer has a duty towards their employees. Additionally, all individuals have a certain neighborly duty of care to not behave in a way that could result in physical harm to others.
What is a breach of duty?
When a person is derelict in their duty of care towards someone and negligently causes them harm, this is known as a “breach of duty”. For an action or behavior to be legally considered a breach of duty it must deviate from the expected behavior of a reasonable person. (Note that in Israeli law the term “a reasonable person” does not refer to a specific individual, nor to the average citizen, but rather to a hypothetical individual whose behavior the courts consider socially desirable and appropriate.)
Suing over the dereliction of a statutory duty
Dereliction of statutory duty concerns any harm caused to a person because of someone’s failure to execute their legal duties. For example, a municipality is required by law to provide adequate sanitation services to all public spaces in its jurisdiction. If a particular street is never cleaned by the municipality and trash is never properly cleared from there, that would constitute a tort towards the residents of that street. In this case, the municipality’s dereliction of its statutory duty could be detrimental to the residents’ physical health and emotional well-being and could cause them financial harm as well. Therefore, the residents can hire a tort attorney in Israel in order to sue the municipality for damages on the grounds of breach of statutory duty. Though this type of dereliction is similar to negligence, they are considered separate civil wrongs in Israeli law, because statutory duties are explicitly prescribed by law whereas the duty of care is implicit.
Financial compensation and punitive damages
In certain negligence lawsuits, such as in medical malpractice claims, it is necessary for the claimant to pay an external specialist to submit an expert opinion that establishes that the plaintiff’s behavior constitutes negligence as well as an assessment of the damages caused. Additionally, when a judge is persuaded by a negligence claim or a medical malpractice claim, the court will order a case evaluation by a professional expert in order to determine what compensation is required to rectify all of the harm done.
The money awarded by the judge will include compensatory damages for financial and physical harm and possibly also aggravated damages for pain and suffering. Attorneys attempt to maximize the compensation that the court will award their clients. In some cases, especially when the tort is intentional and malicious, the court may impose punitive damages as well. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the perpetrator and to deter them from committing additional wrongful acts in the future. However, it is extremely uncommon for punitive damages to be imposed in cases of unintentional negligence.
Additional articles of interest
If this article on filing a negligence lawsuit in Israel was helpful to you, then you may be interested in other articles concerning tort law in Israel on our website. You may find the following articles useful: Advice from a Negligence Lawyer in Israel, Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim, and Advice from a Civil Tort Attorney. If you have any additional questions on filing a negligence lawsuit in Israel or if you require legal assistance, please contact us. We have law offices both in Jerusalem and in Tel-Aviv.