The Liability Act (HPflG) - until 1978: Reich Liability Act - regulates liability in Germany for damaging events in connection with dangerous companies. Liability in the Liability Act is designed as strict liability and therefore generally does not require culpable behavior .
|Previous title:||Law on the liability to pay damages for the deaths and bodily injuries caused in the operation of railways, mines, etc.|
|Scope:||Federal Republic of Germany|
|Legal matter:||Civil law , liability law|
|Original version from:||June 7, 1871
( RGBl. P. 207)
|Entry into force on:||June 28, 1871|
|New announcement from:||January 4, 1978
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 145 )
|Last change by:||
Art. 9 G of 17 July 2017
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 2421, 2422 )
|Effective date of the
|July 22, 2017
(Art. 12 G of July 17, 2017)
|Please note the note on the applicable legal version.|
Protected legal interests
The legal interests protected by the Liability Act are life, limb and property. Since, however, it is a question of strict liability for companies in which damaging events can reach dimensions that threaten the existence of the company, liability limits apply according to the amount.
The addressees of the law are different companies. The legislature has finally listed these in Sections 1–3. There are:
- Railway operating companies that operate rail or suspension railways.
- Operators of systems with which electricity, gases, vapors or liquids are transported in power line or pipeline systems. However, the legislature has made a distinction between
- Effect liability - the damaging event is triggered by the effects of electricity, gases, vapors or liquids - and
- State liability - the damaging event is not based on the effect of electricity, gas, steam or liquid, but on the improper condition of the system.
- other companies:
- Pits (graves)
In the case of other companies, the damaging event on the legal interests of life or physical integrity must be due to the fault of a member of the company - in this case there is no strict liability.
Disclaimer and Limits of Liability
There is an exclusion of liability for all cases if the damaging event was caused by force majeure . An attribution would then be unreasonable.
Contributory negligence on the part of the injured party reduces the claim according to the general rules of § 254 BGB (§ 4 HPflG)
The limits of liability at
- Bodily harm and killing (§§ 8, 9 HPflG) are for each person killed or injured and per damaging event at a maximum of 600,000 euros or a pension of 36,000 euros per year.
- Property damage (to movable property) according to § 2 HPflG is a maximum of 300,000 euros per damaging event (§ 10 HPflG). This also applies if several items were damaged by the event. This means that this sum is paid out once per damaging event, regardless of whether the sum of the damages is higher or whether the sum of the claims of the injured persons or property exceeds this maximum liability limit. If the sum of the claims for damages exceeds the maximum limit, the creditors are only partially satisfied.
The claim against an injuring party by the injured party under other civil law liability provisions (e.g. according to § 823 BGB) remains unaffected by the liability provisions of the HPflG (§ 12 HPflG).
The statute of limitations for claims under the HPflG follows the general statute of limitations of the BGB (i.e. usually 3 years if the injured party becomes aware of the damage and the party causing the damage; the requirements for suspending or interrupting the statute of limitations also follow Sections 202 ff. BGB).
Literature (only exemplary)
- Geigel / Kurt Haag (eds.), The liability process , 27th edition, Munich 2015 [Verlag CH Beck]
- Filthaut, Werner, Liability Act: Commentary on the Liability Act and the competing provisions of other liability laws , 9th edition, Munich 2015 [Verlag CH Beck], ISBN 978-3406590115
- Reprint of the first version of June 7, 1871 in: Collection of sources for the history of German social policy 1867 to 1914 , Section I: From the time when the Reich was founded to the Imperial Social Message (1867-1881) , Volume 2: From liability legislation to the first accident insurance proposal , edited by Florian Tennstedt and Heidi Winter, Stuttgart a. a. 1993, No. 13.