New Guidelines for Determining Actual and Exemplary Damages in Mexican Civil Lawsuits for Personal Injury and Wrongful Death, by Gustavo Padilla

By Gustavo Padilla

As of April 2017, the manner of quantifying damages in Mexican civil liability lawsuits changed. Prior to such date, Mexico followed rules that provided a fixed cap on the amount of damages that could be claimed in wrongful death cases. Such determination varied, depending on the applicable laws of each Mexican state.

In the past, it was common practice to use rules applicable to Mexico City, even if the incident or origin of the claim occurred in another state. This was because the applicable law in Mexico City established a broader range for these types of damages.

Now, by virtue of the new binding legal precedent issued by Mexico’s Supreme Court, Mexico has a consistent set of rules that applies throughout the entire Mexican Republic. It is also important to note that despite the fact that the underlying statutory law has not been changed, such new Supreme Court criteria must be applied and analyzed in light of applicable principles of human rights law.

In the case at hand, the Mexican Supreme Court determined that measures as to indemnification should be determined by taking into consideration the following principles:

  • Full reparation of damages;
  • The individual facts of the case and decision;
  • The nature and extent of the damages suffered by the victims, without regard to the characteristics of the defendants;
  • The damages caused are what determines the nature and amount of the indemnification; and
  • Analysis of data such as the age, monthly income and living conditions of the victims.

The Supreme Court’s decision also mentions no unjust enrichment or impoverishment of the victim and/or their successors should result from the damages award. Given the law’s requirement that the victim’s compensation should not be excessive, such should be viewed in light of the factors listed above.

Finally, note that in all cases it will be necessary to determine, from the point of view of all the parties involved, the manner in which said damages will be determined and paid to victims in a given case.