The notorious fact and, at the same time, huge issue for every foreigner visiting Serbia is that they are not safe while walking down the streets and parks. Every tourist that has ever visited Serbia can confirm that stray dogs can be easily spotted and that it is not uncommon to see an entire pack.
The statistics say that 77.500 people were injured by the stray dogs, while in the previous six years Serbian cities and towns paid over 25 million euros in damages as compensation for injury and are facing approximately 20.000 claims per year. However, there are additional issues in providing public services that lead to injuries regarding the fall on ice or snow, fall in a hole, which represent other legal grounds for seeking damages.
Despite having grounded legal basis to file a claim before the court, most of the foreigners feel uncomfortable with time-consuming trails in Serbia. They commonly justify it with their short-stay visas or their inability to show up on the hearing. In this blog, we are going to make the comparison between the court trials, on one hand, and the amicable dispute resolution as an effective alternative to the court proceedings, on the other hand.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF PERSONAL INJURY IN SERBIAN LAW?
Prior to giving explanation on pros and cons of two legal ways of resolving the injury cases, it should be useful to note that the injury caused by stray dogs, fall on the ice or snow etc. is called the non-material damage. Therefore, an injured person is allowed to seek damages for the personal injury to its body. In order for one tourist to be 100% sure what steps shall be made in case on personal injury, we suggest reading about different types of injury that one may suffer according to Serbian law:
- Physical pain – body pain one suffers due to personal injury. Physical pain may even last after injured person receives monetary compensation, which affects the amount of damages for injury;
- Mental pain – literally defined as fear injured person suffers at the moment of injury (primary fear) and later on (secondary fear);
- Disfigurement or defacement is affected appearance of the injured person that produces an embarrassing reaction of observers as well as the personal discomfort of the damaged person due to affected appearance;
- The last type of injury includes the decrease of one’s general abilities, so that it has to put more effort in order to perform some activities in life or it is disabled to do such activities.
Each type of injury is analysed according to individual cases. Therefore, we strongly advise you to engage the attorney at law and gain expert legal advice on your rights and amount of damages that can be reasonably expected.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IN CASE OF INJURY?
Tourists and the other foreigners usually do not have any legal knowledge, for sure not of Serbian law. If you are willing to seek damages for personal injury in Serbia, you should follow steps here below:
Step no. 1 – THE WITNESSES
It may happen that you suffer injury and none of your friends or relatives are beside you. However, bear in mind that anybody that has witnessed your injury can be helpful. In case of injury, ask people around you for the contact number and personal information, in order to call them witnesses in your case.
Step no. 2 – GO TO THE HOSPITAL
Visit the nearby hospital and tell doctor about your injury, physical pain, mental pain, disfigurement and decrease of your abilities or disabilities. It is very important to visit hospital as soon as possible, because the medical report will include all the detail necessary to seek damages. Note that you must get the medical report on your injury, because it proves your injury in medical terms.
Step no. 3 – VISIT THE ATTORNEY AT LAW
We strongly advise you to visit the attorney at law in order to find out on your legal rights and the amount of damages to be sought. In step no. 3 attorney at law is engaged to resolve the dilemma on commencing the court trail or resolving the case in amicable way by out-of-court settlement.
PROS AND CONS OF COURT TRIAL AND OUT-OF-COURT SETTLEMENT
Many cities and towns in Serbia (including Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Sremska Mitrovica, Kikinda, Subotica, Pančevo, Smederevo) have enacted bylaws on amicable out-of-court settlement in case injury is caused by stray dogs, fall on ice or snow, fall in a hole. Additionally, in the other cities and towns, that have not adopted such bylaws, out-of-court settlement is possible to reach as well, but the entire process is less predictable and has to be examined by attorney at law. Anyone who is interested in seeking damages should file a claim and enclose the necessary documents with the competent authorities. Finally, here are the pros and cons of these two ways of resolving your personal injury case.
Save your time (+)
Out-of-court settlement is the way to resolve your legal issues and save your time. As we have already mentioned, Novi Sad, the second biggest city in Serbia, precisely governed the amicable dispute resolution on injuries caused by stray dogs, fall on ice or snow and fall in a hole on its territory. The entire legal process finishes in one month counting from the date the claim was filed, while the monetary compensation has to be made in additional 20 days. However, tourists should be aware that these deadlines are not as strictly followed as it may be expected. Nevertheless, for the sake of comparison, monetary compensation should be made based on out-of-court settlement before even first hearing before the court is done! In the event tourists or other foreign visitors have to exit Serbia before the legal procedure is done, the best solution seems to sign the power of attorney to your lawyer. Your damages will be paid to you on your bank account by your lawyer.
Save your money (+)
Filling a claim with the court inevitably leads to court taxes and fees for expert witnesses. On the other hand, these costs do not exist in the process of amicable dispute resolution. Additionally, attorney’s fee is lower as the process of amicable dispute resolution requires less time and effort.
Lower monetary compensation (-)
Depending on the type and intensity of the personal injury, person injured on the territory of Novi Sad is entitled to claim damages in the amount from 20.000 RSD to 40.000 RSD (approximately from 170 EUR to 340 EUR) for each type of injury. For instance, if you suffered two types of injury – physical pain and mental pain, you are entitled to claim up to 80.000 RSD (around 680 EUR) for these two types of injury. Take into account that monetary compensation in the process of amicable dispute resolution is lower in comparison to the one you may be granted by court. This is the main reason out-of-court settlement, in certain situation, is not the choice for the people who want full compensation.
All of the above indicates that the choice between court trial and out-of-court settlement will depend on number of factors, one of the most significant of which will be the amount of monetary compensation. In other words, the final decision will be based on these factors:
- In the event personal injury is of such type and intensity you shall expect lower money compensation granted by the court, amicable dispute resolution imposes as more reasonable choice;
- Otherwise, in case of for example severe injuries, disfigurement of a minor, huge decrease of one’s general abilities or disability, starting the court process is legitimate.
The amount of damages you may obtain before the court can be determined only by analyzing documents and case law, which requires expert legal knowledge. After the legal analysis, you are about to decide whether to start the court process or resolve legal issue out of court.