Who is liable if a parked trailer is bumped by a car and an object is damaged?




Who is liable if a parked trailer is bumped by a car and an object is damaged?

The Federal Supreme Court was recently allowed to deal with a case from Hessen in which a car driver collided with a trailer parked at the side of the road and the trailer consequently started to move. When the trailer rolled away, a nearby building was damaged. The Court concluded that the owner of the trailer can also be held liable. This is because § 7 of the Road Traffic Act stipulates that the person whose motor vehicle – in this case the trailer – causes damage must pay compensation. Experience has shown that the provision has always been interpreted broadly, but the Regional Court that had previously ruled assumed that an exception had to be made in this case. If one looks at the case more closely, it was a different accident in which the car driver had left the road in the first place and therefor pushed the trailer, so that the car driver had the alleged sole actual power of disposal over the trailer. However, the BGH judges in the case differently. The Court states that the operational danger of the trailer was realised and that the entire event was influenced by the trailer. The operational risk lies precisely in the fact that the construction of a trailer means that uncontrolled movements can happen precisely due to external influence. This means in the end that the holder of the trailer has to pay compensation.

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