Non-material damage vs. Pain and suffering in Greece
Non-material damage or Moral damage or Non material Harm and Pain and suffering or Mental anguish or Mental Distress or Pretium Doloris are concepts that are often confused.
Although they have commonalities, their differences in the way in Greek law are handled are distinctive. Moral Damage (which is a broader concept) includes the Mental Distress (as narrower concept).
In an accident, apart from physical damage which is relatively easy to be defined, there are damages, such as non-material damages and mental anguish that a court must assess, Something that is not easy because it harms legitimate goods, such as the personality, the physical health and integrity, the reputation, the honor etc. of a person.
NON MATERIAL DAMAGE
In order for a Court to rule on moral damages, there should be an illegal act of deception or negligence against someone, something which is an unfair practice, which is not necessarily a criminal offence, which causes mental discomfort and pain, stress and generally unpleasant feelings, for short or long time: e.g. a defamation through the press, a verbal attack in public, swearing and insults, a mutilation or another disability resulting from an accident (car accident, labor accident, etc).
The Court, in order to determine the amount of reasonable financial satisfaction (as it's called the legal compensation for moral damage), takes into consideration the following:
• the extend of damage • the degree of responsibility of the offender and • the economic situation of the parties
So if for example someone falls victim of slanderous abuse of his/her personality in any way or suffered an injury as a result of a medical error, or due to a road accident, these are illustrative cases in which someone may request pecuniary reparation or monetary compensation due to non-material damage.
Mental anguish, is a lesser concept because it is exclusively linked with the death of a person, either intentionally (murder) or by negligence (car accident, medical error, other accident etc.) and is awarded to the relatives of the victim.
A serious issue arises from the definition of the circle of relatives (other than a spouse, parents, children, even fetuses) but also the country of reference for the level of compensation in case the victim is a foreigner.
It is obvious that the amounts for Pain and suffering are generally larger than those awarded in cases of "simple" non-material harm, because death is a brutal fact, does not change back and deprives the relatives of the loved ones and thus creates a constant state of suffering and discomfort.