• Germany's news in English

Bahn sends bill to accident victim's family

The Local · 2 Feb 2012, 07:21

Published: 02 Feb 2012 07:21 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The driver of the train that killed 23-year-old Oliver S. as he tried to cross the tracks near Einhausen in central Germany was so traumatised by the incident 19 months ago that he has not returned to work, the Bild newspaper reported on Thursday.

But Karola S. was horrified when she opened a letter from Deutsche Bahn to find a “claim settlement” demand for the loss of the employee.

“I lost my dearest. Isn’t that punishment enough?” she asked Bild.

Her lawyer Steffen Linberg said her son had no liability insurance, leaving his mother technically responsible for any claim against him.

But as soon as Bild contacted Deutsche Bahn, red-faced managers retracted the demand, saying the letter was worded poorly.

“We mourn the mother’s loss very much,” a spokesman said.

This is not the first time the family of someone killed by a train has been asked for compensation - last year the family of a 20-year-old killed by a train in 2009 was sued by the traumatised train driver who said the incident had ruined his life.

Story continues below…

The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

11:24 February 2, 2012 by raandy
That's real cold. Have some compassion you unfeeling insensitive cretans.
11:47 February 2, 2012 by Gretl
"Her lawyer Steffen Linberg said her son had no liability insurance, leaving his mother technically responsible for any claim against him."

He was 23 years old. At what age are you considered an emancipated adult in Germany?
12:31 February 2, 2012 by Heine Steinfeldt
If are married and have kids......never.
12:59 February 2, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
@ Gretl

>He was 23 years old. At what age are you considered an emancipated adult in


18 is the age of majority from which the law regards you as an adult (exception: juvenile penal law is often applied until age 21).

The bit where it gets tricky in German law is the question how you get compensation for damages that a person has caused who has since passed on. Responsibility and liability for your deeds ends with your death, and technically, the law does not allow charges to be transfered to the deceased's bereaved. Even less so when the deceased was a full adult and his loved ones weren't involved in the act which caused third party damage.

I guess Deutsche Bahn just tried their luck and tried to dupe that kid's mom out of 5,000 euros... I don't think it had any basis in law at all.
13:13 February 2, 2012 by twisted
I do not question the mother's pain at the loss of her son, and while I don't recall the circumstances of the accident, I have quite a bit of sympathy for the driver of the train. To kill someone in an accident that was avoidable must be extremely painful for the driver. He does deserve both sympathy and compensation from someone.
14:34 February 2, 2012 by nemo999
This from those wonder folks who gave us the train station in Berlin that needs an estimated 5 million euros to fix, and who are in the process of giving Stuttgart 21 to the citizens of Stuttgart.

Another pressing question is just how many traumatized train engineers are there?

Why does not Deutsche Bahn have a program to rehab these individuals, so that they can return to the work force. Why have not the workers council demanded this for their members.
15:23 February 2, 2012 by michael4096
These incidents are quite difficult for people outside Germany to understand and often lead to the "insensitive cretans" type response above. It isn't true. In my experience Germans are at least as sensitive as anyone else, but they do end up with these accusations because of their emphasis on process - Germans love their processes. In this case, it was probably the same process that recovers the cleaning costs of grafiti or something.

Like justice systems which are also heavily process oriented, German rules can be "an ass". However, it is also the mentality that makes e.g. BMW so successful so it's difficult to say it's 'wrong'.
15:49 February 2, 2012 by catjones
My fear is that the poor driver will have a never-ending (fully paid) life of suffering. Perhaps spa treatments for a few years plus a change of scenery. Of course, no train travel...only airplanes. He was offered a desk job at DB, but the train photos on the office walls only reminded him of the tragedy, plus the guy in the next cubicle would whistle from time-to-time.
18:10 February 2, 2012 by nemo999
I hope that I am not the "insensitive cretan".

I do not know for German Train engineers, but in the United States the "Average Train Engineer" has a collision with a vehicle or person on the track, every 18 Months.

After one of these accidents the engineer, is required, to provide a blood sample to rule out drugs, to have a medical physical to rule out medical conditions, to attend psychiatric counseling. The engine data recorder is pulled and the data saved and reviewed.

The Engineer is put on restricted duty until they get a release to return to normal operations. Most of the time it takes about 3 - 4 weeks to get a release for normal duty. The long pole in the tent is the psychiatric counseling. For some engineer it is longer, and for two individuals that I know they decided that enough was enough and they were placed in other positions within the company.
20:25 February 2, 2012 by heyheyhey

I have said this before today, and i say it again. You are a worthless smartass.

Your brazen disregard for real suffering and your cocky, arrogant posts demonstrate that you are likely subhuman, but that you consider yourself oh-so cute!

Go away, you idiot.
00:52 February 3, 2012 by lenny van
This insensitivity is not at all surprising in a country where accumulating money, regardless of how its done, is the only true meaning of life. I have found out about an bank in Innsbruck, that was able to steal a 74 year old age pensioner's money after his pension had been taken away from him by a large, well-respected German company and then reposes his apartment and throw him out on the street. It was able to do this legally with the full assistance and support of the German judicial and legislative system.
11:50 February 3, 2012 by LecteurX
@ heyheyhey - "worthless"? "subhuman"?
13:36 February 3, 2012 by Gaffers
lol :-) I always have to smile at the hypocrisy of heyheyhey given postings of his in the past. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black !!

@Lenny, I don't think this is limited to Germany. You'll find that behaviour from financial institutions the world over ! I would even go as far as to say that Germans are less driven by personal gains than, say, the english. They aim for financial security more than the English and as a whole have lower levels of debts but that isn't the same thing as prioritising money above all else. In fact they are more focussed on family and quality of life.
16:43 February 3, 2012 by raandy
nemo999 ,not to worry , It's all about if the shoe fits.

I don't think English is your mother tongue, dont't worry you do not come across as insensitive.
17:35 February 3, 2012 by justice&peace
What on earth is wrong with this country? Double standards everywhere! It makes my blood boil.

There are two victims here; the train driver and the kid who got killed. Mother is NOT responsibility for the train drivers' trauma; DB is, as the employer. End of story. DB has insurance in place and should be dipping into their own pockets to pay their employee. No where else in the world, would an institution go begging elsewhere. This is ludicrous.

And what of the Loveparade fiasco in 2010? 21 people dead. Not ONE person has yet been held accountable or responsible.

How long is this going to take?
18:51 February 3, 2012 by raandy
justice&peace the handle says it all, spot on dude.
Today's headlines
This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd