In depth view on pain and suffering claims in Mongolia


                       ‘A person’s life is valued at 42 million MNT in Mongolia’

We frequently hear about people demanding compensation for physical injury and emotional distress from an accident in international news and some imported soap dramas. In legal term, this is referred to as“pain and suffering”. Most people view pain and suffering as a ploy to get more money out of insurance companies, but that’s incorrect.

A car accident, slip and fall, dog attack, or other accidentsand traumatic exposure can result in injuries that forever change the life of its victim. However, it is more difficult for those seeking emotional distress damages to obtain compensation than those seeking compensation for physical or economic damage. This is related to the difficulty of providing evidence of suffering and nonexistence of a universal reference tool that measures pain in a way attorneys and insurance companies can use to calculate settlement amounts.

In Mongolia, personal injury claims for pain and suffering are rare. Just last week, an accident victim tried to claim a compensation for emotional distress, but the Mongolian court dismissed the case.

Loss assessor of the case and the President of the Mongolian Association of Loss Adjusters, B.Erdenebayar, spoke about compensation related matters in the following interview.

How much attention does Mongolia give to pain and suffering caused from an accident?

In Mongolia, the court awards monetary compensations for economic and property damage, but not for harms to people’s health, the most valuable asset of humans. For instance, it’s common for vehicles to breakdown when a person gets into a car accident, but this also leads to injuries. It’s become a norm to have the person at fault reimburse for damages to the car. When a person suffers damage to their organs, the case is determined depending on whether or not the plaintiff has a “complaint”. If the plaintiff says they do, the defendant will be sentenced to prison. If they don’t, the case is dropped. It’s like pardoning the defendant and not holding them accountable. In any case, defendants of these types of cases are put on probation or passed with a light punishment. It might seem like the obvious thing to do as they didn’t intentionally cause the accident but the victim is still suffering. The saying “10 hells await the loser, but only one hell for the winner” is an accurate description for this case.



How are damages measured and recovered?

I briefly explained how a car accident damages are reimbursed in the previous question. The mechanism for reimbursement for other criminal crimes aside from car accidents is very poor. In particular, it’s even less defined for theft and robbery cases. Robbing a house or building requires breaking many things, beginning from doors and locks. Robbers can sometimes traumatize, injure and even harm people’s lives. People who instigate such crimes are mainly people who aren’t financially secure. It’s common for these people to be incapable of compensating the adjusted settlement of a claim for damages. It’s pointless to try to make robbers compensate for the damage they caused. Due to various reasons, it’s common for victims to be left uncompensated for their losses and the criminals to end up in jail.

Not being able to raise and educate the public into proper individuals is the state’s shortcoming. The state must somehow fix their inadequacy. Prison might be a universal way to punish but compensating the losses of victims is one of the responsibilities of the state too.

It takes significant amount of time to resolve civil cases through the court. There’s even a saying that court trials require a minimum of 10 days. Are people able to negotiate and recover damage claims with the help of the court?

Of course, people do obtain compensations for their losses after going to court. However, the probability of getting the full amount of compensation is low. Overall, the monitoring of judicial cases and preparing necessary documents takes up too much time. Judges require time to understand the nature of a case and review evidence so that they can pass fair and just decisions.

It seems that the public came up with the saying “court trials require at least 10 days to resolve” when our courts used to make decision very promptly. Nowadays, most cases last for more than 10 days to resolve. Hardly any case can be resolved in this short amount of time. I guess that violations and criminal offenses connected to the election is resolved quite faster than other types of violations.

Only tangible damages are compensated in Mongolia. The court never allowed victims to obtain compensation for pain and suffering. Recently, this type of trial was held but ended up being dismissed. How did you assess the compensation amount for the emotional distress the victim suffered?

It’s absolutely true that only tangible damages are compensated. The Mongolian judicial system has never allowed victims to claim for pain and suffering. We [the Association of Loss Adjusters] are trying to take a new step in regards to this matter. We’re studying international practices to achieve this. Also, people’s lives and health aren’t being evaluated.

The recent case, tried at the First Instance Court of Bayangol District, was related to physical pain and emotional distress. Unfortunately, the case wasn’t resolved; it was dismissed. The reason is connected to damage evaluation. The victim had reached a settlement negotiation before and agreed to drop the charges after receiving compensation money. The money they received before the court trial is much less than the actual loss they suffered. However, I got to evaluate and calculate a person’s pain and suffering through this experience. The case is on hold at judicial level. It might be a big challenge for judges to take the first step in this type of case.

The compensation amount for pain and suffering is actually evaluated much higher than other types of damages. Even so, it’s quite a difficult type of case to determine when you consider the monthly and annual wages of Mongolians, as well as the fact that Mongolians are new to the concept of valuing people’s lives and suffering in monetary terms.

How do other countries determine claims for pain and suffering?

From what I found out, this type of case is common in other countries. Russia has set high compensation tariffs for false accusations and sexual abuse. In the USA, 250,000 to 450,000 USD is stipulated as the basic price of a person’s life. It’s 100 million KRW in the Republic of Korea. Humans are starting to value intellectual capital over material capital. The source of intellectual capital is definitely people. Discovering and valuing inner and exterior resources of individuals is the future trend to development. It’s become clear that we need to focus on developing in this direction. Mongolia must follow global standards on this. Happiness will be created by properly valuing land, the mother of resources, and people, the father of resources.


Not being able to raise and educate the public into proper individuals is the state’s shortcoming. The state must somehow fix their inadequacy. Prison might be a universal way to punish but compensating the losses of victims is one of the responsibilities of the state too.


How much would you say the life of a Mongolian is worth?

The basic price of a life varies in different countries because of their GDP per capita. Through relevant studies, we determined that the life of a Mongolian is equal to 5.5 times the amount of GDP per capita. For 2016, a Mongolian life is worth at least 42 million MNT regardless of their age. This is only the basic price of their life. Lost opportunity is the most important factor and will be added to the amount. Young and talented people with higher education who specialized in a specific field will obviously be valued very highly for their lost opportunities. Cost of direct damages will be added as well. Each person’s life is valued differently depending on these two factors.

Would the guilty party compensate if the family of the victim suffers emotional distress? How would this be evaluated?

Valuing people’s life means setting compensation amount for the victim’s family. There has almost never been an instance of claims for this type of compensation in Mongolia. Even if there is, the court would award a small amount of compensation and “silence” the victims. Basically, it is settled outside the court.

I’ve assessed damage of many accidents which resulted in deaths. Every time I asked if the family wanted to add compensation for the life of the deceased, they would say that doing that wouldn’t bring back the deceased. It felt deeply regrettable. Our association’s objective is to make sure that this type of instance never happens again.

How are pain and suffering damages evaluated and measured?

The basis of emotional distress damage is the price of life. Value of life is divided by five, so each day is worth around 23,000 MNT. This is the price of emotional distress per day. A person would emotionally suffer if they had to be admitted to the hospital for 10 days.

The reason for dividing it by five is because the existing Criminal Code gives a five-year sentence in prison to people who unintentionally killed a person. A person’s life amounts to five years in prison according to the law.

There are different types of emotional distress damages. Let’s say a person has to undergo intensive treatment following a car accident. The plaintiff should receive five times the basic tariff for emotional distress per day for every single day they have to stay in the hospital.

Is a special license required for evaluating compensation for pain and suffering?

According to the current legislative system, companies licensed by the Financial Regulatory Commission can evaluate compensation for pain and suffering damages. These companies determine the amount to be insured. Companies that assess pain and suffering damage are required to be a member of the Association of Loss Adjusters and must meet a few criteria, such as having a loss assessor specialized in personnel management and regularly receive training.

How much does it cost to get this type of compensation calculated?

I can’t answer that right now. The work is just starting. It’s too early to set tariffs. Many things need to be questioned and researched for every type of evaluation. We need to invite a foreign specialist and get advice. The association spends large sums of money on trainings, but all of this will be recovered in the future. In this manner, tons of things are required for setting tariffs. We’re unable to get support from the government in any form at the moment.



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