Compensations for personal injuries in law and court decisions

September 1, 2007 to February 28, 2010
30 months

This project addresses an important topic that has not been studied in Portugal, at least from a multidisciplinary perspective, namely, the economic, social and cultural values of the human body and of the human life in law and in court decisions.  In these past few years, issues concerning life and the human body have been understood as of the utmost social importance. Issues like trafficking of organs and people, eating disorders, plastic surgery, domestic violence, genetics, physical and mental diseases and fast spreading epidemics arouse complex social and legal questions. These issues acquire special significance and complexity in our risk-ridden society, where violent crimes result in increasing insecurity, where the pressures of economic globalization jeopardize workers' health and safety, and road accidents constantly cause death and irreversible damage. Risks are more and more diversified, and this leads to a growing protagonism on the part of insurance companies, while at the same time the State seems to be declining all responsibilities in relation to social protection. The increasing visibility of the above issues and the social and economic centrality of life and the body have forced the legal systems of various countries to proceed to their normative and judicial reconfiguration.
This study aims at analysing the legal and judicial strategies adopted to incorporate such change and the interrelationship between those and the cultural and social representations of the human body. A complex matter that concerns the role played by lobbies, especially those linked to insurance companies, and forensic experts in shaping the will of the legislator in defining the system of compensation; the distinction between dano morale and personal injuries; and the criteria underlying the determination of compensation so as to discover the systems of social stratification which hide behind the apparent equality of all citizens before the law. The legal and judicial treatment of this question will also be analysed with a view to understanding the incorporation of community law in the Portuguese legal system.


Publication of books, papers in national and international journals, presentations in meetings and seminars, organization of seminars and conferences and final report.

Justice, democracy, bodily harm, compensation
Funding Entities
Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology
Portuguese Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality