Torts, Personal Injury, Malicious Damages

In Germany, as well as everywhere else you can de­mand indemnification for injuries and damages. How­ever, you can neither demand punitive damages nor en­force foreign judgments granting damages with the only aim to punish this person. Ger­man law considers the demands of extra damages, only to punish the assailant, unlawful because civil courts are not allowed to im­pose punishments. Penal courts have just as little jurisdiction to grant damages in Germany. Any other way of handling it would vio­late the principle of checks and balances in government – at least to the opinion of the German legislator.

While I was walking down the street, a guy beat me up. I got a black eye, and bruises everywhere etc. The thug broke my glasses, and my friend’s notebook. There is no doctor in my village. I had to travel to a nearby town several times to consult one. He prescribed me physical therapy for which I had to pay deductibles of EUR 200. Now that the assailant refuses to pay, I had to hire an attorney. What damages do I get?

If your assailant is subject to compensation, you can generally receive compensation for damages to your property and personal injuries. The assailant will be subject to compensation, if it is proven that he attacked you and the occurred damages directly arise from his assault. In other words, everything mentioned above is to be compensated. You will even collect the costs for visiting the doctor, the therapist, your attorney and even beyond that, compensation for pain and injuries (Schmerzensgeld).

As you just said, I am entitled to compensation for pain and injury (Schmerzensgeld). How much can I expect?

We cannot tell you precisely because in Germany there are no specific rules in such cases. This is a matter of case law and it depends on the severity of your injuries, any long-term complications, the duration of treatment, and a host of other factors.  

By the way, I am glad I will get a new notebook to replace my friend’s old one. My friend lent me an old 486 PC and now I will be able to return him a brand new Pentium VI.

Forget it. This is not a swift routine to an upgrade. All you can expect is to be put back into the same position you were in before the assault. Making a profit is out of the question. In the case of the old notebook you have to accept a deduction, called “new for old”; meaning you will have to pay the full price for a new notebook minus the value of, for example, € 200 for the old one.

Due to a car accident, my jalopy needs repairs. I need to rent a car and look forward to driving something cooler than my own car. How much can I sock the insurance company for?

Sorry, but I have to remind you that you play a role in holding down the costs of damages (§254 BGB). You are indeed entitled to rent a car if the repairs take long longer than overnight, but the insurance company will only pay for a rental car one class lower than what you normally drive. If you rent the fanciest car, you will have to pay the difference yourself. Your car rental company can inform you which car will come in question. On top of that, you are supposed to rent at the cheapest agency. But you are not expected to travel 30km to find the cheapest. Try two or three agencies in your vicinity and select the cheapest of those.

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