Civil liability

The civil liability is defined as the obligation of every person to repair damages that causes the person or property of another.

Its origin may be contractual or extracontractual:

  • The contractual civil liability It is the obligation to repair the damage caused in the event that one of the parties fails to comply with its obligations.
  • The concept of extracontractual liability It is broader, since it includes compensation derived from damages or injuries that the injured party did not have the duty to endure. In community law it is known as quasi-delict liability, a term that helps understand the concept. Thus, compensation for a traffic accident is of this type since, although there is no contract, the person responsible must compensate the victim for the damages and damages that has caused him.

What is civil liability?

Civil liability is defined in article 1089 of the Civil Code, which specifies that the obligations arise from:

  • The law.
  • The contracts and quasi-contracts.
  • Illegal acts and omissions or those involving any type of blame or negligence.
    • Within this section, article 1092 of the Civil Code indicates that this type of illegal acts and omissions can arise from faults or crimes. Although there are currently no faults, the objective of this article is to differentiate civil liability (which is what is governed according to the Civil Code) from criminal liability (which is what is governed according to the Penal Code).
    • It should be noted that the fact that certain illegal acts or omissions entail criminal liability, does not determine that this is incompatible with the civil law. For example, let's imagine that two people collide on a public road. One of them was distracted looking at her mobile phone and the other couldn't avoid her. The crash caused the second to fall, breaking his glasses and breaking his left eyebrow, requiring three stitches. In this case the first will have the obligation to compensate the second (civil liability). Let us now imagine that the first was not distracted, but hit the second consciously and with harmful intent. In addition to compensating you, you may have to answer for crime of injury.

Obligations arise from the law, from contracts and quasi-contracts, and from illicit acts and omissions or those involving any type of blame or negligence.

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Article 1089 of the Civil Code

Civil obligations arising from crimes or misdemeanors will be governed by the provisions of the Penal Code.

Article 1092 of the Civil Code

Elements of civil liability

Civil liability requires the concurrence of three elements:

1. Personal items

It is about the person who causes the damage and the person who suffers it. The first is civilly responsible for reparation, restitution or compensation against the second.

2. Injury

The injury may take the form of a breach of contract or damage. Furthermore, it can affect the person or assets of the injured party.

In the case of contractual civil liability, penalties can be established when compensating for the injury. And in the case of non-contractual damages, the judge will be in charge of assessing the injury.

3. Causal relationship

It is necessary that there be a causal link between the action or omission of the person causing the damage and the injury itself. Thus, no one has to be liable for incidental damages (unless their duty is to avoid them) or for those that are unforeseeable or unavoidable.

Consequences of civil liability

If the concurrence of civil liability is determined, The person responsible must return the damaged property or repair the damage caused.. When restitution or repair is impossible, a compensation.

In our legal system two principles govern that are applicable:

  • The universal patrimonial responsibility determines that all the assets of the civilly responsible party are subject to the fulfillment of an obligation. That is, if at this moment the person responsible does not have enough resources to pay for his guilt, he will continue to be obligated for this payment until it is satisfied, even if it is in the future.
  • He principle of full restitution determines that the civilly responsible person must leave things in the state in which they were before his intervention. That is why restitution and reparation are preferred to compensation. And that is why the compensation includes:
    • Personal, property and moral damages.
    • Damages and lost profits.

The shift of civil responsibility

To avoid the damage patrimonial that can represent civil liability, there is the insurance technique. Through insurance, it can be established that the insurer becomes jointly and severally liable. of the obligation to restitute, repair or compensate.

In some cases insurance is mandatory. This is the case, for example, of traffic insurance. The damages resulting from a traffic accident can be so high that the civil party responsible does not have (nor will ever have) enough assets to take care of them. Thanks to the insurance, The injured party will be compensated by the insurer.. This is without prejudice to it being repeated against the insured.

Many professions require subscribing to a liability insurance. On other occasions, insurance is contracted as a matter of prudence.

In short, almost every time a person causes damage to another person or their property, civil liability will arise.