The Brazilian legal system is based on the civil law regime. Cases are decided by professional judges, selected in a public contest, with life tenure until forced retirement at 75. Appeals are decided by the Courts of Appeal. The Supreme Court is the guardian of the Constitution, and the Superior Court of Justice is responsible for the uniformity of federal statutes (both decide legal matters). The federalist system concentrates power in the federal government, so the vast majority of law is federal law. There is no trial by jury in civil cases.
Three years after the fact/accident (or the violation of the right), or, in some cases, when the claimant is aware of the damages.
Five years after the claimant is aware of the damages and the identity of the manufacturer.
If the toxic or environmental claim occurs in the labor environment, two years after the claimant is aware of the damages (consolidated damages). If the harm is a consequence of defective product, then the period is five years. In other cases, it is three years (general rule).
Action against insurance of defendant
After a lot of controversy, the Superior Court of Justice, in a binding decision to lower courts, decided that a plaintiff is not permitted to bring a direct action against the insurer of the defendant. But, in one other binding decision, the same Court stated that if the victim sues the defendant and the defendant moves a regressive lawsuit against his insurer, the insurance company can be required to pay damages directly to the claimant. As a result, some Courts have decided that it is possible to sue both defendant and the insurer (but the defendant must be a party in the case). The limitation period is three years for third parties (general rule). But, the action of the insured against the insurance company has a limitation period of one year.
The limitation period starts when the minor reaches sixteen years old.
Tolling of limitation period
Tolling is usually done by a written judicial notification to the defendant stating that the claimant reserves all rights regarding the potential claim. After such letter, a new limitation period starts.
Road traffic accidents
There is mandatory public insurance for all motor vehicle owners, with coverage around four thousand dollars for damages caused to third parties. Because of the low amount of the public insurance, most car owners have private insurance; however, this is not mandatory.
Work place related injuries
All injuries suffered by employees on the job can be the cause of a claim for economic and non-economic damages against the employer.
Any group of individuals with either collective or diffuse rights may bring a claim to protect their interests. Individuals must demonstrate that specific damages have been suffered to be entitled to compensation.
The cost to litigate in Brazil is not expensive. In cases related to personal injury, or some other liabilities, lawyers usually charge on a contingency fee basis. In other areas of practice, attorney fees vary between an hourly rate basis and a defined amount. The court costs can be considered low compared to other countries.
We are at your disposal to answer any further or specific question about the Brazilian Legal System, through the following emails and telephone: firstname.lastname@example.org /email@example.com / 55 21 2507-4195.
**Marcos Nasseh Tabet is an attorney at Leonardo Amarante Advogados in Rio de Janeiro.
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