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Stationary vehicle accident in Israel – when can you claim financial damages?

יהודה אלחרר
יהודה אלחרר

Does a vehicle accident that took place while not driving entitle the victims of the accident to compensation, and if it does, in which cases? The law recognizes road accidents in a wide variety of situations. Accordingly, stationary vehicle accidents or other accidents that occurred while the car was not moving may still entitle the victims of the accident to financial compensation. These events may include, for example, an injury from a vehicle during repair at a garage, falling from a vehicle while it was parked, injury from the hood or trunk lid, injury while repairing the vehicle or injury when changing a wheel. A lawyer specializing in traffic and tort law from our firm will explain the subject in detail below.

Car accidents – not (just) what you think

When we think of traffic accidents, in most cases scenarios of a collision between vehicles or unfortunate cases of pedestrians being run over come to mind. But in practice, the term “car accident” includes a much wider variety of situations. Our office deals extensively with the representation of victims of car accidents, as well as with tort claims. Alongside “ordinary” traffic accident cases, such as the ones we mentioned above, we often come across extreme cases as part of our work, where it is not always clear whether a particular incident constitutes a traffic accident that entitles those injured  to any financial compensation. There is quite a bit of uncertainty on the subject due to the fact that the law in Israel defines road accidents quite extensively. Under the definition of the law, cases of damage to a vehicle parked in a prohibited place, or cases in which an essential component of a motor vehicle caused an explosion or fire, or cases in which physical harm was caused due to the utilization of the vehicle’s mechanical power may also be considered traffic accidents.

Stationary vehicle accident

It is not always easy to “translate” the definition of the law into reality and to determine whether a certain situation constitutes a traffic accident. Accordingly, to understand whether or not a certain event can be classified as a traffic accident, it is recommended to consult a lawyer who specializes in traffic law and tort law, as soon as possible after the accident. Below are several examples of cases in which an accident that did not occur while driving was recognized as a traffic accident. These examples illustrate how broad the definition of an accident may be, and how the classification of an event as an accident depends on the circumstances of each and every case.

Injury while entering or exiting a vehicle

Can physical injury that occurred while entering or exiting a vehicle be considered a car accident? Yes, that is absolutely possible. However, this is subject to legal tests established over the years by the courts while interpreting the Road Accident Victims Compensation Law in the situations brought before them as part of road accident claims. A recent example is found in a judgment of the Rishon LeZion Magistrate Court from 2018 (case no. 12095-10-15).

In this ruling, an elderly woman was traveling in a vehicle, which stopped near the intersection to let her out. When the passenger opened the car door and got out, she fell and injured her leg. The passenger sued the car insurance company, which claimed in its defense that the car was not moving, and that there is no actual connection between the passenger getting out of the car and her fall. The court found, based on the evidence it heard, that this incident constitutes a car accident, which entitles the passenger to damages from the insurance company, in the amount of ILS 100,000. For more information about the laws and the case law on accidents while getting into or out of a vehicle, see an article published on our website on the subject.

Injury from the hood or the vehicle doors

Can physical injury that occurred when opening or closing the hood or the trunk (for example, for the purpose of placing bags with groceries) or from one of the passenger doors, be recognized as a car accident? The answer to this question is more complex, since the court’s approach in recent years has narrowed the range of cases that are considered a car accident in these situations. This follows a ruling of the Supreme Court from 2019 (case no. 8744/18). The ruling dealt with a man who drove his car to the airport. After parking his car, he opened the back seat door, took out the suitcase he was supposed to fly with and hit his hand while closing the door, unfortunately severing part of his finger.

The court held that in such cases it is necessary to examine what is considered part of the “vehicle use area.” The use of the vehicle begins with entering the vehicle (which includes physical contact between the person entering and the vehicle) and ends after the person is in a stable position outside the vehicle. In the circumstances of the aforementioned case, the claimant injured his hand at the stage when he was already standing firmly outside the vehicle, so the stage at which the damage was incurred cannot be considered use of the vehicle that falls under the definition of a car accident. However, the court ruled that borderline situations may still arise, in which a similar situation may be classified as a traffic accident. The court gave as an example a situation of injury that occurs when personal luggage is placed in the vehicle (such as bags with groceries) while a driver is getting into his seat. This case may be considered use of a vehicle that constitutes a traffic accident, unlike a case where the driver put personal luggage in the back seat of the vehicle and was injured before he got into the driver’s seat for the purpose of driving. This example illustrates that despite the difficulty in classifying cases of this type in the current legal situation, this may still be possible in some cases.

Injury from a vehicle during its repair

Physical injuries are often incurred during vehicle repair. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled (in case no. 9332/99) that it is possible, in certain cases, to recognize an injury from a vehicle during its repair in a garage as a traffic accident, even though the vehicle was not moving. The judgment dealt with an event in which the owner of a body and paint shop put a car in a car painting machine. The vehicle was parked without the handbrake raised. As a result, the vehicle moved, rolled forward and hit the owner of the garage. The court ruled that this case meets the definition of use of a motor vehicle, in a way that entitles the injured person to compensation. This is despite the fact that the vehicle’s engine was not running in this case and the vehicle was not in motion.

An accident that did not happen while driving – contact a lawyer who specializes in traffic and tort law

The examples we presented above show how broad the definition of a car accident may be and that it applies to many types of accidents that did not happen while driving, but while the vehicle was standing still and even when the vehicle’s engine was turned off. If you have additional questions on the subject, or need any advice or assistance, we will be happy to be at your service. Our law firm, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specializes in traffic and tort law, and in representing victims of road accidents before all legal courts and insurance companies. Contact us using the numbers or email address listed below.

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