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New law in Netherlands compensates family members for emotional loss

April 2018

On April 10, 2018, the Dutch Senate adopted a bill that regulates compensation for emotional losses. In the case of death or serious injury from an accident where another person is liable, the next of kin of the victim may be entitled to compensation for emotional damage (ie receive compensation for feelings of distress.)

Although compensation for emotional losses cannot alleviate suffering, the law does offer recognition and satisfaction.

The Act contains a scheme that specifies fixed compensation amounts per category, and identifies a fixed group of persons that are entitled to compensation.

Persons entitled to compensation

The Act applies to a victim's next of kin and surviving relatives. This includes partners, children and parents. In addition, the Act also applies to those who, in a family context, permanently take care of the injured. Finally, the Dutch House of Representatives also added stepchildren and stepparents to the scope of the Bill, entitling them to claim compensation for emotional losses. Finally, the Act also applies to persons who have a "close personal relationship" with the victim. In this case, a close affective relationship must be demonstrated. In this test, the actual relationship, not just the formal one, will be decisive, taking into account the relationship’s intensity, nature and duration.

Amount of compensation

The claim for emotional losses will fall between EUR 12,500 and EUR 20,000. The person found liable for the accident in question must pay the compensation. By varying the categories and the compensation amount, the Act considers the personal circumstances of the victim's next of kin and surviving relatives.

Dutch insurers support the new Act. The Association of Insurers state that although no financial compensation can compensate the suffering of surviving relatives, scientific research shows that compensation does play an important role in providing needed recognition.

On the other hand, the Association warns that the Act will lead to higher claim costs for insurers.

The Act will enter into force after receiving Royal Decree.


Portrait of Eva Schothorst - Gransier
Eva Schothorst - Gransier
Anna van Duinen