Liability Act 1978, (Haftpflichtgesetz) of 4 January 1978 (BGBl. I, 145), as amended
04 January 1978

§ 1. Liability of the entrepreneur

(1) If in the conduct of a railway or cable-way a human being is killed or suffers injury to body or health or a thing is damaged, the entrepreneur [the undertaking] is bound to make good to the injured party the damage arising therefrom.

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

(3) The duty to make good is also excluded if:

1. an object accepted for safekeeping is damaged;

2. an object being transported is damaged, unless a passenger is wearing or carrying it with him.

§ 2. Liability of the proprietor of an energy establishment

(1) If a human being is killed or suffers injury to body or health or an object is damaged through the operation of electricity, gas, steam, or current escaping from a cable or pipeline or a plant for the provision of such energy or material, the proprietor of the plant is bound to make good the damage arising therefrom. The same applies if the damage, without being due to the operation of the electricity, gas, steam or current, is traceable to the existence of such plants, unless they were in a proper state when the damage was caused. A plant is in a proper state as long as it conforms to the recognized technical rules and is intact.

(2) Subsection 1 does not apply to plants which serve only for the transmission of signs or sounds.

(3) The duty to compensate under subsection 1 is excluded:

1. if the damage occurred inside a building and is traceable to a plant discoverable therein (subsection 1) or if it occurred inside a plot in the possession of the proprietor of the plant;

2. if any energy consuming installation or any other facility consuming or carrying one of the elements named in subsection 1 is damaged or such a facility has caused a damage;

3. if the damage was caused by force majeure, unless it is traceable to the fall of cable wires.

§ 3. Liability of other entrepreneurs

Anyone who operates a mine, quarry, pit, or factory is liable to compensation if an authorized agent or representative or anyone employed in the direction or supervision of the undertaking or of the workmen causes by a fault in the carrying out of the service arrangement, death or bodily injury to a human being.

§ 4. Contributory fault

If a fault of the injured party contributed to the occurrence of the damage § 254 BGB applies; where an object is damaged, the fault of the person who exercises the factual control over it is equivalent to the fault of the injured party.

§ 5. Extent of the compensation for death

(1) In the case of death, compensation (§§ 1, 2, and 3) must be made by making good the cost of the attempted cure as well as of the pecuniary damage which the deceased has suffered therefrom by having his earning capacity destroyed or diminished during the illness, or by having his personal needs increased. The person bound to make compensation must also make good the funeral expenses to the person who is under a duty to bear those expenses.

(2) If the deceased at the time of the injury stood to a third party in a relation by virtue of which he was, or could have become under a statutory duty of maintenance, and if the third party is deprived of the right to maintenance as a result of the death, the person bound to make compensation must compensate the third party for the period of the deceased’s presumed life expectancy. The duty of compensation arises also if the third party at the time of the injury was conceived but not yet born.

§ 6. Extent of the compensation for bodily injury

In case of bodily injury, the compensation (§§ 1, 2, and 3) must be made by making good the cost of cure as well as the pecuniary damage which the injured party suffers by having his earning capacity temporarily or permanently destroyed or diminished or by having his personal needs increased by reason of the injury.

§ 7. Compulsory law

The duty of compensation under §§ 1–3 of this Act may not, in so far as personal injury is concerned, be either excluded or restricted for the future. The same applies to the duty of compensation under § 2 of this statute to damage to objects, unless the exclusion or restriction of liability has been agreed to between the proprietor of the plant and a public corporation or fund or a businessman by the terms of a contract relating to the conduct of his business. Provisions and agreements to the contrary are void.

§ 8. Money annuity or lump sum settlement

(1) Compensation for destruction or diminution of any earning capacity and for increase in the personal needs of the injured person as well as compensation to be paid to a third party under § 3 II is due only for future losses and payments must take the form of an annuity.

(2) The provisions of §§ 843 II–IV BGB apply mutatis mutandis.

(3) If in the sentencing of the person bound to pay a money annuity no decision is made as to the provision of security, the person entitled to compensation can nevertheless demand that such security be provided if the financial status of the person bound to pay it has appreciably worsened; in similar circumstances, he can demand an increase in the security fixed by the judgment.

§ 9. Limit of liability

The entrepreneur or the proprietor of the plant indicated in § 2 is liable in cases of death and injury for each person only up to 600,000 euros or a pension of 36,000 euros per annum.

§ 10. Limit of liability for damage to objects by energy plants

(1) The entrepreneur or the proprietor of a plant listed in § 2 is liable for property damage only up to the sum of 300,000 euros, even if several objects are damaged by the same event.

(2) If, by reason of the same event, compensation is payable to several persons, which together exceeds the highest permissible sum of 300,000 euros, the individual awards are reduced in the proportion to which their total sum stands to the highest permissible sum.

(3) Paras. (1) and (2) do not apply to land.

§ 11. Prescription

With regard to prescription the provisions of the BGB applicable to unlawful acts apply mutatis mutandis.

§ 12. Further liabilities

Statutory provisions remain unaffected according to which a person bound to make compensation is liable to a greater extent than under the provisions of this Act or another person is responsible for the damage.

§ 13. Several persons liable

(1) If several persons are bound to make good property damage to a third person, as regards the mutual relations of those bound to make compensation, the duty to compensate and its extent depend on the circumstances, and in particular on how far the damage was caused by one or the other.

(2) The same applies if the damage occurred to one of those bound to compensate according to §§ 1, 2, to the liability that attaches to another of them.

(3) Liability to compensate on the basis of subsections (1) and (2) is excluded for persons liable under § 1 insofar as the trackbound train is operated on a public road and the accident is caused by an unavoidable event which is neither due to a defect in the construction of the train nor to a failure of its mechanism. An event is unavoidable only if the entrepreneur and any person involved in the operation of the train have applied all care necessary in the light of the circumstances. The exclusion also applies to the liability of the owner of a trackbound train who is not the entrepreneur.

(4) Subsection (1) applies mutatis mutandis where, along with those bound to compensate under §§ 1 and 2, another person is legally responsible for the damage.

§ 14. Optional jurisdiction

Actions based on these provisions may also be brought in the court, in whose district the event causing damage took place.

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This page last updated Thursday, 01-Dec-2005 11:05:08 CST. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.