The Tainan Branch of the Taiwan High Court rendered the 107-Chung-Shang-Guo-Zi-1 Decision of September 17, 2019 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that in case of inadequacies in the installation of facilities such as road and traffic marks, markings and signs, if a traffic accident is attributable to an actor’s behavior due to the failure to follow the onsite road and traffic marks, markings and signs, national compensation cannot be claimed since there is no causal relationship between the installation or lack of management of facilities such as road and traffic marks, markings and signs and the resultant traffic accident. This Decision became final on November 27, 2019 when the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the Appellant (or the Plaintiff).
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Appellants are Individual A’s parents. One day when Individual A traveling on an ordinary motorcycle passed through a particular section on the First Taiwan Provincial Highway, he accidentally hit the rim stone of the traffic island separating fast and slow lanes and died after his first aid was not successful. The Appellants asserted that the Appellee was inadequate in the installation and management of relevant signs in the road section at issue (including the traffic island), resulting in impaired performance of the highway and Individual A’s death in the traffic accident. Therefore, the Appellants suffered damage such as child support cost, medical cost and solatium. As a result, a claim was lodged against the Appellee to fully compensate such damage in accordance with Article 3, Paragraph 1 of the National Compensation Law.
According to the Decision, in spite of the inadequacies in the installation or management of road and traffic marks, markings and signs, if the actor could have complied with traffic safety rules, followed the instructions from the onsite road and traffic marks, markings and signs, and reduced the speed, the traffic accident should have been avoided. Therefore, it is hard to conclude that there is a certain causal relationship between the occurrence of the traffic accident and the installation and management of the road and traffic marks, markings and signs. In that case, national compensation should not be claimed.
According to the facts in this case, it was found as a result of an assessment that the travel speed of Individual A before the accident is much higher than the speed limit for that section of the highway. Although the right side of the traffic island on the road where the accident took place was not marked with a dividing line between the fast lane and the slow lane, still there were fast automobile lanes and a lane for scooters and slower vehicles on the section of the road at issue, and this is sufficient to guide drivers of scooters or slower vehicles to enter the slow lane through such traffic island. Therefore, it is indeed difficult to establish any causal relationship between the irregularity of not marking the separation line for fast and slow lanes and the accident of Individual A. In addition, whether nighttime lighting was set up on the traffic island on the section of the road at issue was at the discretion of the highway authority based on its professional judgment. Moreover, lane separation marks and danger marks were set up on the section of the road at issue. If the driver had followed the speed limit and turned on the lights of the vehicle at issue, it would not have been possible to result in a lack of driving safety in the absence of road lights. Finally, according to the assessment report, there is a certain causal relationship between the excessively speeding of Individual A and the complete destruction of his vehicle and the extent of his injuries and death. In addition, there is also a causal relationship between the excessive speeding and the accident as a result of his failure to timely react to the road situations. Therefore, it is difficult to establish any specific causal relationship between Individual A’s death in the traffic accident and the inadequacies in the installation and management of the traffic island at issue and the road and traffic marks, markings and signs. Hence, the Tainan Branch of the Taiwan high Court believed that the Appellants’ assertions were groundless and that the application of law and finding of facts by the original trial court were not erroneous and rejected the appeal.