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Case:
Road Traffic Act of 19 December 1952 [BGBl I., 837] (as amended)
Date:
19 December 1952

Contents
I Traffic Rules sections 1–6d
II Liability sections 7–20
III Penalties and Administrative Fines sections 21–7
IV Central Traffic Register sections 28–30

II Liability

§ 7 Liability of the Keeper of a Vehicle

(1) If in the course of the operation of a motor vehicle or a trailer, designed to be taken along with a vehicle, a person is killed, the body or the health of a person is injured or an object is damaged, the keeper of the motor vehicle is obliged to compensate the injured party for the damage resulting therefrom.

(2) The duty to compensate is excluded if the accident is caused by force majeure.

(3) If somebody uses the vehicle without the knowledge and consent of the keeper of the vehicle that person is liable to pay compensation for the damage in the place of the keeper; in addition the keeper himself remains liable to pay compensation if the use of the motor vehicle was facilitated by his negligence. The first sentence of this paragraph does not apply if the person using the vehicle was employed by the keeper for the purpose of operating the vehicle or if he was entrusted with the vehicle by the keeper. Sentences 1 and 2 are to be applied accordingly to the use of a trailer

§ 8 Exceptions
The provisions of § 7 do not apply,

1. if the accident was caused by a motor vehicle which cannot travel on level ground at a higher speed than twenty kilometers per hour, or by a trailer connected to such a vehicle at the time of the accident,

2. if the injured person was operating the motor vehicle, or

3. if an object has been damaged which was being transported by the motor vehicle or by a trailer connected to it at the time of the accident, unless a person who is being transported is carrying the thing on him or takes it with him.

§ 8a Liability to Passengers in the Course of Commercial Transport of Persons

In the case of commercial transport of persons for remuneration, the duty of the keeper to compensate in accordance with § 7 because of the death or injury of persons transported cannot be either excluded or limited. The commercial character of a transport of persons is not excluded by the fact that the transport is performed by a body or institution governed by public law.

§ 9 Contributory Negligence of the Injured Party

If the injured party contributed to the damage by his negligence, § 254 BGB applies with the proviso that if an object was damaged, negligence on the part of the person exercising factual control over the object is treated as equivalent to negligence on the part of the injured party.

§ 10 Extent of Liability in the Case of Death

(1) In the case of death, damages to be paid comprise compensation for the expenses of an attempted cure and for the economic loss which the deceased has suffered because his earning capacity was destroyed or reduced during his illness or because his needs were increased. The person liable to pay damages must also reimburse the cost of the burial to the person responsible for it.

(2) If at the time of the injury the deceased stood in a relationship to a third party by virtue of which he was legally bound to maintain the latter, or might become so liable, and if as a result of the death the third party has lost the right to maintenance, the person liable to pay compensation must pay damages to the third party to the extent that the deceased would have been liable to pay maintenance during the probable duration of his life. The duty to compensate arises even if the third party was conceived at the time of the injury, but had not yet been born.

§ 11 Extent of Liability in the Case of Injury to the Person

In the case of injury to the person or to health, the damages comprise compensation for the expenses of the cure and for the economic loss which the injured party suffered because his earning capacity was temporarily or permanently destroyed or reduced as a result of the injury or because his needs have increased. Equitable compensation in money can also be claimed for non-pecuniary loss.

§ 12 Maximum Amount of Liability

(1)The person who is bound to pay compensation is liable to pay

1. where one person was killed or injured, a lump sum of up to 600,000 euros or periodic payments of up to 36,000 euros per annum;

2. where several persons were killed or injured in the same event, notwithstanding the limits laid down in 1, a total lump sum of up to 3,000,000 euros or periodical payments of up to 180,000 euros per annum; this restriction does not however apply to a keeper of a motor vehicle who is under a duty to compensate in the case of commercial transport of persons for remuneration;

3. where an object was damaged, a sum of up to 300,000 euros, even if several objects are damaged in the same event.

(2) If the damages to be paid to several claimants involved in the same event exceed in total the maximum amount enumerated in 2., first part of the sentence, or in 3., the damages payable to each individual are reduced in proportion of the total in relation to the maximum amount.

§ 12a Dangerous Goods

(1) If dangerous goods are transported, the person bound to pay compensation is liable to pay

1. where several persons were killed or injured in the same event, notwithstanding the limits laid down in § 12 para 1 no 1, a total capital sum of up to 6,000,000 euros or periodic payments of up to 360,000 euros per annum,

2. where immovable objects are damaged, even if several objects are damaged in the same event, a sum of up to 6,000,000 euros, in so far as the damage is caused by the characteristics which make the transported goods dangerous. In other respects § 12 para 1 remains unaffected.

(2) Dangerous goods in the sense of this Act are substances and objects whose transport on the road is forbidden, or allowed only under certain conditions, in accordance with Appendices A and B to the European Convention of the 30th September 1957 on the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) (reference omitted) in the version applying at that time.

(3) Paragraph 1 is not to be applied in the case of exempted transports of dangerous goods or transports in limited quantities within in the limits laid down in marginal number 10 011 of Annex B to the Convention mentioned in paragraph 2.

(4) Paragraph 1 is not to be applied when the damage on transport has arisen within a business in which dangerous goods are produced, treated, processed, stored, used or destroyed, in so far as the transport takes place on a self-contained site.

(5) § 12 para 2 applies accordingly.

§ 12b Armoured Caterpillar Vehicles

§§ 12 and 12a are not to be applied when damage is caused by the operation of an armoured caterpillar vehicle.

§ 13 Periodical Payments as Damages

(1) In the future, damages in respect of the loss or the reduction of earning capacity or because the needs of the injured party have increased as well as the damages due to a third party under § 10, para. 2, must be paid by way of periodical amounts.

(2) The provisions of § 843, II to IV of the BGB apply by way of analogy.

(3) If at the time when judgment was given for periodical payments the judgment debtor was not asked to give security, the person entitled to the payment may demand security nevertheless, if the circumstances of the judgment debtor have deterioriated considerably; in the same circumstances he can demand that the security fixed by the judgment should be increased.

§ 14 Period of Limitation

The period of limitation is determined by the analogous application of the rule of the Civil Code governing the limitation of actions in tort.

§ 15 Duty to Give Notice—Laches

The claimant for damages forfeits the rights granted by the provisions of this law, unless he had given notice of the accident to the person liable to pay compensation within six months after having ascertained the damage and the identity of the person liable to pay compensation. Forfeiture does not take place if the failure to give notice was due to circumstances for which the claimant for damages is not responsible or if the person liable to pay compensation has come to know of the accident by other means during the period set out above.

§ 16 Liability due to Other Legal Provisions

Any Federal provisions are unaffected according to which the keeper of a motor vehicle is more extensively liable for damage caused by the vehicle than according to the provisions of the present law or according to which another person is liable.

§ 17 Contribution among Several Persons Liable to Pay Compensation

(1) If damage is caused by several motor vehicles and if the keepers of the vehicles involved are bound by law to pay compensation to a third party, the liability to pay compensation of the keepers of the vehicles and the extent of the compensation to be paid as between themselves depends upon the circumstances, especially according to whether the damage has been caused predominantly by one or the other of the parties. The same applies to the liability of one of the keepers of the vehicles if the damage was caused to another keeper of a vehicle involved in the accident.

(2) If one of the keeprs involved suffers the damage, the provisions of para. (1) apply accordingly for the liability among the keeprs.

(3) The duty to compensate according to paras (1) and (2) is excluded if the accident was caused by an unavoidable event which is neither due to a defect in the construction of the vehicle or to the failure of its mechanism. An event is only deemed unavoidable if the keeper as well as the driver have applied that amount of care which is required in the light of the circumstances. The exclusion also applies for the owner of a vehicle who is not a keeper.

(4) The provisions of paras. (1) to (3) are to be applied accordingly if the damage is caused by a motor vehicle with connected trailer, by a motor vehicle and an animal, or by a motor vehicle and a train.

§ 18 Liability of the Driver to Pay Compensation

(1) In the circumstances covered by § 7 I, the driver of the motor vehicle is also liable to pay compensation in accordance with the provisions of §§ 8–15. No liability exists if the damage was not caused by the blameworthy conduct of the driver.

(2) The provisions of § 16 apply by way of analogy.

(3) If in the cases in § 17 the driver of a motor vehicle or trailers is also obliged to pay compensation for the damage, the provisions of § 17 are to be applied accordingly to this duty in his relationship with the keepers and drivers of the other motor vehicles involved, with the keeper or drivers of the trailer connected to another motor vehicle involved at the time of the accident, with the keeper of the animal or with the railway undertaking.

§ 19 (Abrogated.)

§ 20 Local Jurisdictions

Claims based on this Act fall also within the jurisdiction of the court of the district in which the event occurred which caused the damage.

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