Chapters of the article
What is social disadvantage?
We understand impairment of social life as a limitation (in extreme cases, even a complete loss) of the victim’s ability to participate in a defined area of human life. The person concerned loses the abilities he or she previously possessed.
To assess the situation, it is useful to compare the person’s lifestyle before and after the injury. It should be ascertained whether there have been permanent health effects or even exclusion from normal life. For example, the person concerned has permanently lost the ability to earn a living in his or her former occupation, cannot play sport, cannot have children, suffers from depression or is permanently dependent on the care of others.
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Sometimes the change in lifestyle and therefore the loss of social participation is quite obvious, for example when confined to a wheelchair. Other times, however, it may be an injury that many people manage to overcome with more or less difficulty, but for others it is quite fatal (chipped fractured ankle for lawyer X for ballerina, loss of pinky finger for teacher X for guitar player). So the assessment needs to be approached on an individual basis.
In the context of the law, we can find social disadvantage enshrined in the Civil Code, which states that: ‘In the event of personal injury, the injured party shall compensate the injured party for the injury by monetary compensation fully compensating for the pain and other non-pecuniary damage suffered; if the injury to health has caused an obstacle to a better future for the injured party, the injured party shall also compensate the injured party for the social disadvantage. If the amount of compensation cannot be so determined, it shall be determined in accordance with the principles of decency.”
If the impairment of social well-being is caused by an occupational accident or occupational disease, the procedure is governed by the Labour Code, which states that “…compensation for pain and suffering and impairment of social well-being shall be granted to the employee in a lump sum. In doing so, it refers to a government regulation which specifies the amount of compensation in more detail‘.
Assessment of the permanent consequences of non-occupational injuries
The Supreme Court has issued a detailed methodology for the qualified assessment of the permanent consequences of a lawsuit for compensation for non-pecuniary damage to health (pain and impairment of social life). In it, it recommends that the injured person’s medical condition should only be assessed once it has stabilised. This means that continuous treatment should be completed. The state of health (including the point at which it becomes established) must always be assessed comprehensively, not separately for each medical discipline into which medical science is formally divided.
The methodology is not binding legislation, but is recommended for use. It should therefore be treated as such. It sets out nine areas within which changes in health status are assessed. Each of these is then divided into individual activities which are scored on a scale of 0-100%. Numerical adjustments to each section are then made to arrive at a final percentage of the person’s impairment. The notional value of a person’s life at 100% disengagement from all spheres of social participation was set at four hundred times the average gross monthly wage for the previous year.
The basic compensation for the impairment of social integration is calculated as a percentage (corresponding to the established degree of limitation of the injured person) of the basic framework amount.
The different areas assessed are:
- Learning and application of knowledge
- General tasks and requirements
- Living at home
- Interpersonal behaviour and relationships
- Main areas of life
- Community, social and civic life
A 100 % impairment of social functioning would essentially mean that the victim would have to be completely removed from his or her life. He would therefore lose the ability to move around, communicate, look after himself and be completely dependent on the care of others.
For the purposes of determining compensation for non-pecuniary damage, expert reports drawn up by a medical expert should be used as evidence
Tip: Have you had an accident at work? What are you entitled to, what is pain and suffering and how is it determined? Is the procedure different if you caused the injury in part by your own breach of duty? And why is your employer allowed to give you notice in connection with an accident at work? We answer all this in our article.
Calculation of work-related social disadvantage
To calculate the impairment, you must use the government regulation on compensation for pain and suffering caused by an occupational accident or disease. According to this regulation, pain and impairment are assessed in points. The distinction is whether the impairment is caused by an accident at work or an occupational disease. The individual points are then set out in the tables in Annexes 3 and 4 to the Regulation.
While Annex 3 gives the scores for injuries such as loss of nose (900 points), deformation of the nose (400 points), perforation of the nasal septum (160 points), Annex 4 lists various occupational diseases, e.g. cancer of the nasal mucosa (4-6 000 points).
The sum of the points is then multiplied by the value of one point, which is currently CZK 250.
It is advisable to contact a solicitor to quantify the claim.
Tip: Everyone has a slightly different idea of occupational disease. Could it be an illness that we suffer from for a month or two? Or should it be accompanied by irreversible consequences? And is it possible to understand as an occupational disease, for example, the back pain or headache that we always suffer from in the evening after work? We have looked at some of the uncertainties we encounter on the subject of occupational diseases.
When do I qualify for a hardship award?
As mentioned above, the assessment of impairment is only made once the injured person’s state of health is relatively stable and the effects of the accident or injury can be described as permanent. This is most often after one year from the onset of the injury, but the time limit can be shorter in the case of very serious injuries such as amputation or paralysis. Conversely, it can be extended for more complex treatment. The law sets the time limit for a claim for impairment of social mobility at three years (calculated from the time when the medical condition becomes stable). However, in the case of accidents at work, the time limit is calculated from the accident itself, even if the medical condition has become established earlier.
It is interesting to note that the impairment can be claimed repeatedly. Each time the health condition worsens, the difference between the new impairment rating and the original rating can be calculated and the difference can be claimed.