Insurance may have to pay if accident driver is drunk enough

Drivers who crash their own cars when drunk cannot expect their insurers to pay up, the German Federal Court has ruled – but a loophole still remains which means that a driver who is drunk out of their minds could rightfully make a claim.

Insurance may have to pay if accident driver is drunk enough
Photo: DPA

A reduction of insurance payment is, according to the current law, only possible in the case of gross negligence – but not when the insured person is so drunk they can be classified as non compos mentis.

The Federal Court this week ruled on a case in which a 22-year-old man smashed his own car into a lamppost on the way home from a rock concert. More than an hour after the crash he was measured as having 0.27 percent alcohol in his blood, enabling his insurer to refuse to pay the €6,400 damage to his car.

The ruling was that when a driver is said to be absolutely incapable of driving – after 0.11 percent blood alcohol account, an insurer can decide to pay nothing at all – anyone who drives in that condition can be said to grossly negligent.

But the legal definition of gross negligence requires that the person concerned is capable of telling the difference between right and wrong.

This does not apply if the person is non compos mentis – or drunk out of their minds. In the case considered by the court in Karlsruhe, the 22-year-old was said to have been possibly over 0.3 percent blood alcohol content, after which point people are generally considered incapacitated.

The Federal Court acknowledged that there may have been a point earlier in the evening when the driver should have made a decision about whether to continue drinking and then drive. Because this had not been considered in the previous hearings, the Federal Court referred the case back to the Higher Regional Court in Dresden.


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Woman on trial over killing spree at Potsdam care home

The trial began on Tuesday of a woman accused of stabbing four residents to death and severely injuring another at a German care home for disabled people where she worked outside Berlin.

Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam.
Tributes laid where four people were killed at a care home in Potsdam. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Soeren Stache

Named as Ines Andrea R., the 52-year-old suspect is charged with four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder following the bloodbath at the Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus facility in Potsdam, Brandenburg, in April.

The victims, two women and two men aged between 31 and 56, were found dead in their rooms after being stabbed with a knife, with police saying they had been subjected to “intense, extreme violence”.

Ines Andrea R. is also accused of trying to kill two further residents and of seriously injuring another, a woman aged 43.

She was detained immediately after the incident and placed in urgent psychiatric care due to what prosecutors described as “pertinent evidence” of severe mental illness.

Around 100 police officers were involved in recovering evidence at the scene.

READ ALSO: Women in custody over killings at Potsdam disabled home

The Thusnelda-von-Saldern-Haus, run by the Lutheran Church’s social welfare service, specialises in helping those with physical and mental disabilities, including blind, deaf and severely autistic patients.

It offers live-in care as well as schools and workshops.

Around 65 people live at the residence, which employs more than 80 people.

Germany has seen a number of high-profile murder cases from care facilities.

In the most prominent trial, nurse Niels Högel was sentenced in 2019 to life in prison for murdering 85 patients in his care.

READ ALSO: Missed chances: How Germany’s killer nurse got away with 85 murders

Högel, believed to be Germany’s most prolific serial killer, murdered patients with lethal injections between 2000 and 2005, before he was eventually caught in the act.

Last year, a Polish healthcare worker was sentenced to life in prison in Munich for killing at least three people with insulin.