Every parent’s nightmare: Your child gets into a traffic accident and will never be the same again due to serious injuries. But for some victims, the ordeal doesn’t end there. They end up in a years-long battle with the perpetrator’s insurance company over the amount of compensation. A painful and complex discussion, in which girls are sometimes less “worthy” than boys. And in it the Turkish background can make up for a ton less.
29-year-old Esra Coskun was involved in a serious traffic accident in 2003 when she crossed the street in the Schilderswijk in The Hague and was hit by a motorcycle. She was in a coma for several months. She had severe brain damage and was never the same again. It is currently declared completely inoperable. But the torment did not end there.
Anyone who is no longer able to work after a serious accident will receive compensation for “loss of earning capacity”. It looks at someone’s position in the job market or education to estimate how their career might develop. For children, like Esra Coskun in 2003, the question is what profession the child will choose. Interest and school reports are also often viewed. The attorney and claims representative for the insurance company also talk with the child’s teachers. Statistics on salary and the number of hours the child would have worked are considered.
In the case of Esra Coskun, a debate arose about the assumptions that were made. Her family and Real, the perpetrator’s insurance company, agreed that she might have become a hairdresser. Real stated that from the age of seventeen to twenty-sixe He would work full time and then get married and have kids. And because she was a woman, according to the perpetrator’s insurance company, she would not have worked for ten years because of the advent of the children, and after that she would have worked at 50 percent until her retirement.
Esra Coskun’s family disagreed. The SR insurance company’s calculation is said to be based on old numbers, which unfairly harms her because she is a girl.
My idea is: whether it’s a girl or a boy, it doesn’t matter. Both can work anywhere. You can’t say: This is a girl, so she can’t work, says Father Neil Coskun in the living room of their home in Schilderswijk, where Esra Koskun and her parents still live.
However, the court in The Hague ruled in favor of the insurance company in 2013, ten years after the accident. The judge added that due to Esra Coskun’s Turkish “cultural background”, it was reasonable that she would stop working after she got married and had children. On these principles, the calculation of damage resulted not in €550,000, as would have happened to a native Dutch boy, but in €70,000 in damages.
The Coskun family finds this statement incomprehensible. They don’t want to see her, Esra Coskun’s brother, Emirhan says. Insurance companies want to save money by differentiating between boys and girls: “They pretend that the girl is not as good as the boy.”
The court’s ruling in The Hague in 2013 led to a social outcry. The then Minister for Social Affairs and Employment, Lodewijk Asher, thought it was an unfair statement. He advised Esra Coskun and her family to go to the Faculty of Human Rights. In 2014, that court ruled that the insurance company had discriminated against Esra Coskun on the basis of gender. The council did not comment on the judge’s assumption about her Turkish background.
Despite all the fanfare and the ruling from the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, nearly ten years after those rulings were handed down and nearly twenty years after the accident, the debate between the Coskun family and the insurance company is not over in 2022.
I really think: I will die first, and only then they will solve it with money. I don’t think it’s normal. “I want money while I’m still alive,” says Esra Coskun herself.
“ I really think: I will die first, and only then they will solve it with money.
Her family is sometimes so desperate. Yet they do not give up. “It’s about Israa’s future, so I can’t stop,” says Father Neil. “They want to pay a small amount, while my daughter’s future is over and so is ours.”
Attorney Arnaud Fuchs (Haagrecht Advocaten) has assisted Esra Coskun and her family for many years. He says that the argument that she will not work not only because she is a girl, but also because she is Turkish, was not invented by the insurance company, but by the judge. According to the family, the insurance company is using the court’s decision as an argument to pay a lower amount of damages.
Because the judge says so, the insurance company hears it and benefits from it. Esra Coskun’s father says: He takes on this argument and is stronger with it.
The fact that the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights made short work of the insurance company’s discrimination between boys and girls in 2014 has not helped the Coskun family so far. They never received an apology from the insurance company Reaal for the way the Esra Coskun case was handled. They haven’t heard from journalists or politicians since 2014 either.
Thanks to this history, the Coskun family is very distrustful of the Netherlands and the courts. “We no longer trust the Netherlands on this point,” says Brother Emmerhan. While we were very different before. We have a red passport. When we are walking somewhere, you never hear us speaking Turkish. We act like the Dutch and live here like the Dutch.
According to him, the situation would have been completely different if the roles had been reversed and a Turkish motorcyclist had hit a Dutch girl. Amirhan: “I’m sure: if it had happened the other way around, they would have exhausted us and we would now be on the street.”
Caring for Isra Coskun is laborious and expensive. A large amount of money must be spent each month on medicines alone. The family receives advances from the insurance company, but this also takes effort and applications must be submitted. Meanwhile, you suffer daily from the physical and mental consequences of the accident and the lengthy discussion with the insurance company.
“I’m almost always sad,” she says. “He (the motorcyclist) has ruined my life and he doesn’t want to pay.”
“I’m almost always sad. He ruined my life and he won’t pay
Esra Coskun would like to work, if she still can. But that’s hard, her brother says: “When she applies, employers see her looks, and they say, ‘No.'” That’s the bad thing. Like it or not, it doesn’t matter.
I also noticed that she is often judged on her looks, or that people on the street make bad remarks to her: “I cried until I got home when it happened, and so did my mom. If I become disabled, everything is ready.
In May this year, the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights again ruled that discrimination was involved in a case where the girl received less compensation. According to attorney Willem Cowdrey (Lena Advocaaten), who is legally assisting the girl in question, the girls still regularly receive lower compensation. It calls for a method of calculation that does justice to the specific child involved and takes into account the fact that women often continue to work at present if they have children.
The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights also stressed in May that the statistics are particularly valuable as a description of the past rather than the future. The council recommended that insurance companies “neutralize” the statistics used to calculate the girls’ damages. This means that the average between men and women is used in terms of expected income and working hours. The question, then, is whether this gender-neutral account will also be used for boys. If not, the girls still received less compensation than the boys.
Meanwhile, the family still hopes for a fair outcome for Esra Coskun. They do not give up, because it is a matter of principle. Her brother understands that it is a large amount, but believes that this is a logical consequence of a motorcyclist’s mistake.
Then you just have to drive normally. Then you shouldn’t overtake there, it’s wrong. The child always has priority. Why can’t this insurance company pay for twenty years? “He ruined my life, so he has to pay for everything,” says Esra Coskun about the biker.
According to Esra Coskun Fuchs’ lawyer, negotiations with the insurance company have reached an important point, and the debate over the amount of damage can finally be resolved after twenty years. The family remains wary. Her father and brother kept in mind that this time the discussion might also end in court. They have cautious hope.
It’s time to draw a line under it. “We want them to realize how bad the situation is,” says Brother Amirhan. We want our rights. on paper.’
Insurance company Nationale Nederlanden, which has since taken over Real, did not respond to margin questions. The company does not want to make any statements about “individual matters”.
Good journalism costs money. Members and donations enable our balanced coverage of biculturalism, meaning, and freedom. So support us if you think our work is important.
Tell me more!