About the scope of a claim for damages

In a recent decision, the Austrian Supreme Court (Oberster Gerichtshof, OGH) once again dealt with questions of tort law.

What happened?

A motorcyclist collided with a passenger car and sustained serious injuries. Due to these injuries, the motorcyclist was unable to help his acquaintances and nephew – in return for support that he had already received prior to the accident – build a house, as is customary among the motorcyclist’s circle of acquaintances. The motorcyclist therefore demanded compensation for his loss of earnings from the driver of the car (and from the owner of the car as well as from the liability insurance).

How did the courts decide?

First, there was the question of fault in the accident. While the court of first instance was of the opinion that the driver of the car was solely to blame for the accident, the court of second instance concluded that the motorcyclist and the driver of the car were equally to blame for the accident. The Supreme Court agreed with this opinion.

Then the question had to be clarified whether the injured motorcyclist was entitled to compensation for loss of earnings because he was no longer able to help his acquaintances and nephew build a house due to his injuries. The OGH denied the claim because the motorcyclist himself admitted that he did not have to compensate his acquaintances and nephew for not being able to help them. The motorcyclist also did not allege any other circumstances that could have led to a pecuniary disadvantage for him.

Thus, since the motorcyclist suffered no loss as a result of not being able to help with the construction, he could not recover damages. Therefore, there was no damage that could be compensated.

(Decision OGH 2 Ob 88/20k, 25.02.2021)

I will be happy to advise and support you in questions regarding claims for damages as well as in the enforcement or defense of claims.