Looking at the Romanian personal injury landscape, in particular regards to insurance law, here Lawyer Monthly talks to Virgil Melnic, of Virgil Melnic Law Office (VMLO), a boutique law firm specialized in insurance. Virgil briefly discusses the latest developments in this segment in Romania, and touches on the firm’s work and challenges in the insurance field.
How do you think Romania stands in regards to personal injury law developments, especially in comparison to neighbouring countries?
Romanian insurance law no. 136/1995 has been amended and completed many times in order to meet EU Motor Insurance Directives.
As you only work for victims, do you have to alter the way you practice the litigation process? What do you think you do differently than your opposition?
I am a plaintiff lawyer working only for victims, and in VMLO embraced Cross-Border Litigation due to networking facilitation. The litigation process for VMLO has become exclusively focused on building a case rather than taking care of Opponent; to steer the Judge in just following the facts and state the law – this is the golden rule in courts. To eventually settle a case in Romania, most would go before the courts.
How do you think Romania has developed over the years in regards to personal injury law; are there any new regulations arising that people should be aware of?
Mainly we foresee two emerging practices: based on law where victims receive real damages according to their rights, with the addition of moral damages. Secondly, where the Defendant is able to impose the insurer’ internal regulation despite the law.
What are the most challenging type of case you deal with and how do you overcome this challenge?
Injured victims where it is really difficult to assess future damages. VMLO has to employ best practices, with reference to western practices.
Have you seen a significant increase in clinical negligence or personal injury claims in Romania? To what do you attribute this?
Personal injury claims are more common today less than before. The same goes for clinical negligence. With the absence of a penal trial, the victim must pay the court fees.
In the UK, the government is clamping down on the ‘unacceptably high’ number of personal injury claims; is this an issue in Romania, whereby clients may take advantage of their insurance policy? How do you think this should be dealt with?
Romanian clients just have recently been enabled the possibility of acting on their insurance policy, and it takes time before we can see what’s going on; the law just changed.
As personal injury can involve sensitive cases, how do you deal with a negative outcome of a case and reassure the victim you are defending?
VMLO is commonly the winner, but the case of any negative outcome we head to ECHR.
What is the most common type of personal injury case you deal with and why do you think it is so common?
Cross-Border cases, especially when a family with children is in need. Foundation became used with legal financing, a new concept.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Before 1990, the insurer was the State company; after that we had investors coming in with foreign capital. In their first years, they could profit double-digits, while in recent years the situation has changed. Romanian consumers have begun to learn about their legal rights and the courts have granted larger damages. As lorries from Romania went through Europe, the picture has changed, while TPL premiums are increasing. Dealing with it today is quite a disgraceful burden.
Another note, is that now at VLMO we measure success using a Bonus Malus system, something which prominently indicates how well our practice is doing and motivates our team to work to the best of their ability.