2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 15:44
When unknown cars burn down, their owners have so far been called in to settle the damage, according to the generally applicable rules of road traffic. But they don't apply here, according to the judges.
The owner of a car set on fire by arsonists is not responsible for damage to neighboring vehicles. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) (BGH, VI ZR 210/06, ZfS 2008,374) set this out in a decision that has now been published. In the negotiated case, unknown perpetrators had set the parked car of a driver on fire. For unexplained reasons, a neighboring car caught fire. The owner demanded damages from the owner and her liability insurance. He referred to a basic liability due to the so-called operational hazard of a car; In many cases, this also applies if the driver or owner is not directly to blame for damage and is based on the general damage potential that lies in the use of a motor vehicle.
No connection with road traffic
In the specific case, however, the judges of the BGH did not see any local or temporal connection between the second vehicle fire and a specific operating process or a specific operating facility of the vehicle. The decisive factor is the arson of an unknown third party. That has nothing to do with the actual road traffic for which the liability rules are established. Although the operational risk is to be interpreted very broadly to protect third parties, the judges believe that the area of liability has been exceeded. Neither the owner of the lit car nor her insurance have to pay for the fire damage to another car. (mid)