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The pedestrian’s responsibility for the accident, which was their fault

We would like to draw your attention to the new interpretation of some norms of the Civil Code of Ukraine and the Law of Ukraine “On Road Traffic”. Thus, the Supreme Court (hereinafter – the Supreme Court) adopted a precedent decision, the essence of which is as follows:

If the accident was caused by a pedestrian, the driver of the vehicle to whom the damage was caused is entitled to compensation for such damage.

In other words, the generally accepted norm of “the pedestrian is always right” has actually lost its meaning.

The Supreme Court of Justice of the Second Chamber of the Civil Court of Cassation has put an end to the case of an accident that occurred in December 2015. Judges of the Supreme Court of Ukraine left unchanged the decision of the Korolevskyi District Court of Zhytomyr, which ordered the pedestrian who caused the accident to pay the plaintiff (car driver) material damage in the amount of 73 thousand 701.11 UAH, as well as 737.01 UAH of state duty (court fee).

According to the decision of the Supreme Court, if a pedestrian is guilty of an accident involving damage to a motor vehicle, the driver (the owner or user of the motor vehicle) has the right to demand monetary compensation from the pedestrian.

In addition, the car user has the right to compensation for damages even if the injured pedestrian, who was found guilty of the accident, did not survive. In the event of a pedestrian’s death, compensation must be paid by his heirs.

However, in such a case the amount of the claim may not exceed the value of the inheritance itself.

We would like to remind you that the decisions of the Supreme Court are, in fact, precedents for lower courts, in other words, judges of lower courts are obliged to take into account the decision of the Supreme Court when considering such cases.

The Supreme Court’s decision was based on the following motives. A pedestrian as a traffic participant (article 14 of the Law of Ukraine “On Road Traffic”) is not a person subject to the provisions of article 1187 of the Civil Code. Thus, in the case of an offense causing damage to the owner of a vehicle, a pedestrian cannot be considered a proper subject of liability for damage caused by a source of increased danger (vehicle).

Taking into account the imperative provisions of part 2 of article 1187 of the Civil Code, a pedestrian cannot be obliged to compensate for the damage caused by a source of increased danger.

At the same time, the impossibility of qualification of a pedestrian as a proper subject of liability for damage caused by a source of increased danger, in the manner prescribed by Art. 1187 of the Civil Code, does not indicate the absence of legal grounds to bring the pedestrian, through whose fault the accident occurred, to civil liability for the damage caused by his actions on general grounds.

Disputable legal relations are subject to the provisions of Article 1166 of the Civil Code, which regulates the general grounds of liability for property damage.

According to the mentioned norm, property damage caused by illegal actions is compensated in full by the person who has caused it. The person who has caused harm, is released from its indemnification if they prove that the harm is caused not through their fault.