Are you entitled to compensation?

Oct 11, 2023.

om a broken smartphone to physical disability: damage can take very different forms and have very different consequences. If the damage was negligently or intentionally caused by another person, you can claim compensation for your property, as well as for your health or freedom. Here are the answers to the most important questions, along with practical examples.


In the simplest cases, a letter to the person causing the damage is sufficient to receive compensation. But sometimes, even these cases end up in court because the initial situation is complicated. If you know the key facts and can rely on legal protection insurance when you need it, you have a good chance of receiving the compensation to which you are entitled.


When are you generally entitled to compensation?

Whenever financial compensation has to be paid to cover a loss and if this loss was intentionally or negligently caused by another person. This includes damage to your property, body, health or freedom. The person responsible is obliged to restore these aspects to their previous condition whenever possible.



What types of damage are there?

Material damage: this includes damage to property such as houses and cars, but being out of pocket or unable to earn money due to somebody else’s actions is also considered as damage. For example, if you are the victim of a car accident caused by negligence, you can also claim the costs of towing your vehicle, medical treatment and any loss of earnings. Material damage can be quantified fairly accurately in financial terms.


Immaterial damage: this damage includes anything that has no discernible value. This is primarily legal assets such as health, freedom and honour. You can claim for damage of this nature if, for example, you can no longer run your household due to an injury, if you are discriminated against or if you have to undergo retraining due to mental health issues.



How can I claim damages?

Out of court: send a letter outlining your claim to the person who caused the damage. Describe exactly what happened and the damage caused. You should always enclose photos, expert assessments or police reports. Give the person a fair deadline by which to settle the claim.


Judicial proceedings: if you cannot reach an agreement, you, as the injured party, need to submit a claim to the court in order to receive compensation. When doing so, it makes sense to take advantage of the support provided by legal protection insurance.



How does this differ from damages for pain and suffering?

Compensation covers any financial loss. Damages for pain and suffering provide compensation if you have been subjected to physical or emotional distress, or are suffering from anxiety or lasting adverse effects. This form of damages is often awarded in the event of physical injury or death, as well as in the case of medical errors or if, for example, you are wrongfully imprisoned.



Everyday examples


Smartphone with water damage

A friend googles something on your iPhone, it falls out of their hand and into the lake. The water damage makes it unusable. Your friend or their insurer is liable for the value of the smartphone. In a case like this, the person responsible can access their third party liability insurance, which will cover the damage on their behalf (minus the deductible).


Accident prior to a city break

You’re flying to London for the weekend – you’ve already paid for your flight, hotel and tickets to see a musical. The day before you leave, your neighbour rides their e-scooter out of their driveway too fast, hitting you, and you break your leg when you fall. As a result, you are unable to travel. You can claim compensation from your neighbour for the consequences of this accident caused by their negligence. This includes everything you have already purchased for your city break and are now unable to use.


Lost sales due to lack of availability

You are self-employed, sell services and have problems with your telephone line in your home office. You are unavailable for hours. Because you probably missed calls from potential customers, you would like compensation from your phone provider. You will not receive it in this case, because you cannot prove that you missed calls and therefore lost sales.


Fortuna Legal Protection Insurance – a subsidiary of Generali Switzerland – has been helping customers to access justice for 50 years. We are therefore taking our anniversary as an opportunity to share 50 highlights from the world of legal protection with you. Our “Best of” includes not only podcasts and information articles, but also real-life stories from our employees.