The 5th Section of the Provincial Court of Murcia recently handed down a judgement in which it ordered an insurance company to pay 1.8 million euros to a man who suffered quadriplegia as a result of a traffic accident caused by the co-driver of the vehicle.
The vehicle was travelling at over 80 km/h on a motorway with a speed limit of 120 km/h when the co-driver made an abrupt manoeuvre, surprisingly turning the steering wheel and causing the accident which seriously injured the driver.
The issue focused on who was the driver at the time of the accident and whether the co-driver, who turned the steering wheel, could be considered as a third party covered by liability insurance.
To analyse this question, the Court considered the definitions of “driver” and “driving” in Annex I of Royal Legislative Decree 6/2015 and in the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy. It also had to take into account article 5.1 of Royal Legislative Decree 8/2004, which excludes damages caused by injury or death of the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident from the compulsory motor insurance coverage.
The Provincial Court concluded that the man in the driver’s seat, who could do nothing to avoid the accident, could be considered a third party. It also held that, consequently, the co-driver was in fact in control of the vehicle at the time of the accident. The man in the driver’s seat is therefore entitled to compensation under the insurance contract in force.
Finally, the judgment concludes that, even if the co-driver was not considered a “driver”, it is clear that the co-driver was a user of the vehicle who caused serious injury to another person by his action, damage which should be covered by the vehicle’s insurance.
At Chapapría-Navarro & Asociados we have lawyers who are experts in traffic law and insurance law, so if you have any problem related to this field, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Article written by Mario de Diego