Accidentally hurt your child
When a child accidentally damages a parked car
A court ruling shows the extent to which a minor child or their parents are liable if they accidentally scratch a parked car.
Children are not liable for damage to parked vehicles if they caused the damage as a result of an incorrect age-appropriate assessment of the dangers that exist in road traffic. This was decided by the Munich District Court with a published judgment (Az .: 345 C 13556/17).
A seven-year-old wanted to bring home both his and his older sister's kickboard. Holding the boards on both hands, he was about to cross a street in a residential area. On this the speed was limited to 30 kilometers per hour. When crossing, the boy had to avoid a parked car, which immediately afterwards drove past the boy.
He was obviously overwhelmed by this traffic situation. He made himself narrow spontaneously to avoid the car. However, he got caught with the handlebars of one of the kickboards on a parked car. This left a long scratch on the paintwork of the vehicle. The owner of the car sued the child's parents for damages. But he was unsuccessful with that.
Typical overwhelming situation
In its reasoning for the judgment, the Munich District Court referred the plaintiff to Section 828 of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch). Here it says: “Anyone who has not reached the age of seven is not responsible for any damage that he inflicts on another. Anyone who has reached the age of seven, but not ten, is not responsible for the damage caused to another person in an accident with a motor vehicle, a railroad or a suspension railway. This does not apply if he intentionally caused the injury. "
According to the court, the legislature wanted to exempt children of this age from liability with this law in those cases in which the child is typically overwhelmed by the specific dangers of motorized road traffic.
It is true that in another court case (judgment Az .: VI ZR 335/03) the Federal Court of Justice affirmed that children from the age of seven are liable for damage to parked vehicles. Because in stationary traffic, the special dangers emanating from motor vehicles that could overwhelm a child do not materialize. However, this exception does not apply to the seven-year-old.
Because the damaging event occurred because he avoided another moving vehicle. "The ability to correctly assess distances and speeds and to behave in accordance with these dangers was relevant in the present case, unlike in an accident alone in stationary traffic," said the court. The plaintiff therefore comes away empty-handed. After the appeal lodged by the plaintiff has been rejected, the judgment is final.
Cost protection and defense against unjustified claims
By the way, parents are only liable for damage caused to their child in a traffic accident, for example, if they have violated their duty of supervision. An existing personal liability insurance offers multiple protection for the whole family. On the one hand, not only the parents are insured in such a policy, but also their minors or children who are still in education.
On the other hand, if the child causes damage for which they or their parents are liable, the insurance will pay the corresponding compensation. Such a policy also fends off unjustified or excessive claims - as in the case mentioned. If a legal dispute is necessary for this, the private liability insurer bears the litigation costs incurred, for example.
Reimbursement of costs for moral reasons
If a child who is legally considered to be incapable of tort due to its age in accordance with Section 828 BGB has caused damage and the parents have not violated their duty of supervision either, the injured party receives nothing. In many cases, for example if a neighbor or an acquaintance was harmed in the process, the parents feel morally obliged to pay for the damage caused.
Therefore, in some private liability policies - sometimes for a surcharge - damage to children incapable of tort can be insured up to a certain amount. If such an inclusion exists, the private liability policy will cover such damage up to a maximum of the agreed amount, even without the child or the parents being legally obliged to pay compensation.
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