Jakub Stromšík
Author’s affiliation: Faculty of Law, Charles University

Compensation for Secondary Victims in Austria and the Czech Republic

Jurisprudence 2/2019 Section: Discussion Page: 42–46

Keywords: secondary victim, Austria, the Czech Republic, nervous shock, emotional harm

Abstract: The Czech Civil Code from 2012 unified and clarified the issue of indemnification of the so-called secondary victims, i.e. people who suffered mental injuries as a result of death (or serious harm) of a person close to them. The question remains, in particular, whether Section 2959 of the Civil Code also applies to situations, in which a secondary victim experiences such a violent mental shock that a psychiatric illness develops. The prevailing legal doctrine contradicts the current case law of the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic, which applies exclusively Section 2959 in these cases. The Supreme Court should be inspired by the Austrian approach and these cases of “nervous shock” (Schockschaden) should be assessed in accordance with Section 2910 in connection with Section 2958 of the Civil Code. Section 2959 of the Civil Code should be applied only for the compensation of “emotional harm” (Trauerschaden) when psychiatric illness is not demonstrated. Another conclusion would lead to obvious injustice because, in the case of “nervous shock”, indemnification for property damage could not be granted.