The Joint Chambers of the Italian Supreme Court denied compensation of this kind of damages, confirming the prevailing position under Italian case law. Ergo insurance companies are not required to review risk assesments covered under relevant policies and consequently increase premiums.
On 22 July 2015, the Joint Chambers of the Supreme Court filed ruling no. 15350 and resolved a conflicting position which existed under previous case law with respect to the right to compensation for the heirs of a victim of a civil wrong who died instantly or immediately after an injury.
For more than 90 years, under Italian case law, a sudden death (in the sense described above) did not gave the victim the right to an indemnifiable damage according to the principle governing civil liability in the Italian legal system. The underlying reasoning is that, as soon as a person dies, he/she is no longer a legal person and thus loses the capacity to suffer damage caused by death. It is for this reason that no right to compensation arises that can be inherited by heirs. It has been further established that the right to health is indemnifiable but right to life is not (this is from a civil law perspective, whereas the right to life is fully protected under criminal law).
On 23 January 2014, a dissenting ruling of the Supreme Court (no. 1361) established that, since the right to life is a fundamental right and causing the death of an individual means causing the most serious breach of the right to life, this must be compensated in terms of civil damages as well, irrespective of a period of time occurring between the injury and death of the victim.
The Third Section of the Supreme Court (Order dated 4 March 2014) called the Joint Chambers to clarify the conflicting interpretations.
After more than a year, the Joint Chambers decided that the grounds of the prevailing and established case law were correct and that the reasoning of the dissenting ruling is not valid enough to warrant a revision of the consolidated interpretation of this issue.
In light of this decision, despite the Supreme Court over-simplifying certain aspects of this complex matter, the kind of damages discussed here are not currently indemnifiable under Italian civil law.
Therefore, insurance companies do not have to consider such damages as part of the risk covered under relevant policies. It follows that an increase in premiums is not necessary.
Under Italian case law, the position on this point remains unchanged (at least for the time being).