In the UAE, compensation is divided into two categories: tort and contractual liability

Torts are civil wrongs that unfairly cause suffering, loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the offence.

Hassan Elhais outlines categories. Satish Kumar / The National
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ABU DHABI // Hassan Elhais, senior partner at Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants, says compensations are divided into two categories: tort and contractual liability.

Torts are civil wrongs that unfairly causes suffering, loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the offense.

The most common example, Mr Elhais said, are hit-and-run cases and car accidents.

“If a victim dies or is injured because of such an accident then based on tort responsibility the heirs deserve compensation and blood money.

“When setting the compensation, the judge will consider several things: physical damages – has the victim sustained any injuries; has he or she gone to the hospital; moral damages – has that person gone through any pain, how is he feeling emotionally; and financial damages – has the victim lost his job, will he be able to work again, was he supporting children.

“Even if a victim died but suffered a few minutes of pain then that is considered and compensated for,” Mr Elhais said.

Diya, or blood money, is a fine imposed for causing death, whether wilfully or accidentally. The minimum fine imposed by the courts is Dh200,000, and can be higher, depending on the circumstances and claims of the victim’s family.

“The diya is a penalty for death and not a compensation,” Mr Elhais said. “It is set at Dh200,000 for loss of life and is only given if the victim has in no way contributed to the accident.”

For example, a victim is not eligible for diya if he runs a red light or is driving under the influence. If he is found to be in any way responsible for his own death, the amount is reduced Dh100,000.

Although blood money is given upon death, some injuries are considered equal to death, such as losing both arms or a vital organ.

“I had a case where because of an accident my client became sterile,” Mr Elhais said. “This was considered to be equal to death and he was given Dh200,000.”

Some plaintiffs opt for compensation instead of arsh, which is paid when an organ or limb is irreparably damaged. However, Mr Elhais said lawyers recommend people to file for arsh as well as compensation.

“Compensation is almost always higher than arsh because victims are compensated for physical damages, moral damages and financial loses. Several factors are also involved that will increase the amount of

compensation the victim receives such as the age of the victim, the severity

of the injury, if he has dependants and how many and how old they are.

“The lawyer in these cases,” Mr Elhais said, “has to show the judge the extent of the damage and how it has affected his client’s life.”

There is a three-year statute of limitations on claiming compensation.

“I have had a few cases of people who are very poor and had to travel back to their home country for whatever reason and later returned to claim compensation but it was too late,” Mr Elhais said.

His advice to anyone involved in an accident or injury is to “be prepared. Keep all medical reports. Don’t file a case till you have final medical reports and it is crucial to tell your lawyer every detail and how the injury has affected your life and your family.”