Claiming personal injury damages in the Netherlands: a unique system!
If you need a lawyer, this is often an expensive affair. A lawyer often costs a lot of money with hourly rates of sometimes well over 200 euros per hour. In most cases you must pay these costs yourself, although in the Netherlands you can sometimes engage a lawyer completely free of charge. This is unique, because nowhere in Europe, and perhaps in the rest of the world, do we know such a system. But what about free legal assistance from a personal injury lawyer?
Free help from a personal injury lawyer
In principle, you also pay for a lawyer in the Netherlands. There is, however, a system of government-funded legal aid. These are called additions. With an assignment, you will be assigned a lawyer by the government. You can choose this yourself, by the way. It is also known as social advocacy. Not every lawyer is affiliated with this system. Most lawyers simply charge you by the hour.
The social legal profession is also only intended for people who are below an income limit. Those above that limit are not eligible for the help of a social advocacy lawyer.
However, there is one area of law where everyone has the right to free legal assistance, namely personal injury. If you are looking for a personal injury lawyer in Rotterdam (in Dutch, this is letselschade advocaat Rotterdam) after you have been hit by a car in this city, you can be assisted by this lawyer for free. But how can this be helped by a lawyer for free?
Lawyer’s costs are part of the damage
The right to free legal assistance from a personal injury lawyer in the Netherlands is laid down in law, in Article 6:96 paragraph 1 of the Civil Code. This article reads: “Eligible for compensation as financial loss also includes: a. reasonable costs to prevent or limit damage that might be expected as a result of the event on which the liability is based; b. reasonable costs to determine damage and liability and c. reasonable costs to obtain payment out of court.
In other words, the costs of legal assistance for out-of-court recovery of personal injury from, for example, a personal injury lawyer in Amsterdam (Dutch: letselschade advocaat Amsterdam) must be reimbursed by the liable party. This is often an insurer because most people are insured against liability. For example, insurance is compulsory for all motor vehicles in the Netherlands. But there is also coverage on the liability insurance for personal injury because of a dog bite or a collision between cyclists.
The danger of free legal assistance in case of personal injury
The Dutch system seems perfect, if you have been injured by someone else or have other complaints because of this, you can claim compensation for free using a personal injury lawyer. But there is also a major drawback to the system.
Because the costs of legal assistance must be paid by the opposing party, often an insurer, countless personal injury bureaus have emerged in the past ten years that deal with personal injury claims. Unfortunately, this also includes several personal injury agencies with insufficient knowledge, or even no knowledge. And these agencies are not bound by any regulations: anyone can call themselves a personal injury specialist in the Netherlands. The result is that many people are not properly helped by these agencies.
In the Netherlands you are entitled to free assistance from a personal injury lawyer if you have been involved in an accident through the fault of someone else. However, there are also disadvantages to the system. In particular, the many incompetent personal injury bureaus are a result of the system of free legal assistance when claiming personal injury.
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