Liability for 6-year-old child who damages car while swerving in bike lane

Haufe Online Editorial Office

Children who have not reached the age of eight may not use bicycle paths that are not separated from the roadway, even if they are traveling together with an adult. In the event of an accident, there may be a breach of the parents’ duty of supervision giving rise to liability.

A father took his three children, ages six, eleven and fifteen, for a bike ride. All four were riding in a bike lane that was not structurally separated from the roadway. When a car parked on the bike path blocked their way, the cyclists tried to swerve – with varying degrees of success.

Evasive maneuver failed, six-year-old hits parked car

The father driving ahead left the lane to avoid the car. The six-year-old daughter driving behind him tried to follow her father’s lead. But the evasive maneuver of the six-year-old failed. You streaked with the handlebars of their bicycle an oncoming vehicle in the area of the right door. There was property damage in the amount of 790 euros.

The owner of the car demanded that the father of the family’s liability insurance cover the damage. The Dusseldorf Local Court upheld the claim. It saw a breach of the father’s duty of supervision over his six year old daughter under §§ 832 para. 1 S. 1, 249 ff BGB.

Was the six-year-old allowed to use the bike path?

The father had violated his duty of supervision by allowing his daughter to ride on the bicycle path contrary to § 2 para. 5 S.1, 2 StVO followed and for this purpose used the bicycle lane, which was marked only on the roadway, but was not structurally separated from the roadway.

Under-eight-year-olds may only use bike lanes that are structurally separated from the roadway

According to § 2 Para. 5 S.1, 2 StVO children who have not reached the age of eight must cycle on the sidewalk. They are only allowed to use a bike lane if it is structurally separated from the road.

On the one hand, the regulation has the purpose of averting dangers from children. However, also vehicles driving next to such a cycle track would fall within the scope of the administrative costs Protected area, because a typical consequence of an unsafe driving style is the contact of parallel vehicles and thus possible damage.

Violation of the duty of supervision: Father should have cycled with child on sidewalk

The court pointed out that when it comes to the question of the father’s liability, it does not matter whether the father has the Toleration of the use of the bike path by his daughter beyond that by his concrete driving further violated his duty of supervision. Therefore, it did not matter whether the father should have behaved differently, for example, whether he should have ridden behind his daughter or whether he should have waited before avoiding the car parked on the bike path in order to reduce the distance between himself and his daughter.

The father could also not be liable under § 832 para. 1 S 2 BGB exonerated because the accident would not have occurred in the same way if he had observed his duty of supervision and ensured that his daughter was driving on the sidewalk.

The father could also reasonably be expected to comply with the duty of supervision, because he would himself have been liable under § 2 para. 5 S.3 StVO been entitled to use the sidewalk to supervise his daughter.

The fact that his sons would then have had to use the bike lane on their own without him is not unreasonable, because they are 11- and 15-year-olds of age capable of riding bicycles without the supervision and advance driving of a guardian.

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