The Taiwan High Court rendered the 107-Shang-Guo-3 Civil Decision of August 29, 2018 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that since road trees which had been assessed to be dangerous trees but had not been removed before the accident occurred affected road safety, the competent authority should assume the national compensation liability for inadequacies in its read tree management.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that when his inheritee drove a through a road circling around a mountain, a road tree (hereinafter, the “Tree at Issue”) toppled and fell on his car directly, and the inherittee still died after a first-aid treatment was administered (hereinafter, the “Accident at Issue”). Although the Tree at Issue was maintained and managed by Defendants Nantou County Government and Chi Chi Town Office, they had failed to conduct relevant maintenance and handling procedures, resulting in the Accident at Issue. Therefore, the complaint was filed to seek national compensation pursuant to relevant provisions of the National Compensation Law.
It was first pointed out in this Decision that under Article 32 of the Highway Law and the Nantou County Self-government Ordinance for Tree Conservation, although the competent authority for the road trees along the road at issue was Nantou County Government, still the management agency should be Chi Chi Town Office. To wit, the trees were managed and maintained by Chi Chi Town Office. Therefore, it was Chi Chi Town Office that was responsible for the management and maintenance in this matter.
It was further pointed out in this Decision that since the Tree at Issue, which had been assessed to be dangerous trees, was not removed or properly handled by management and maintenance steps such as trimming or buttressing before the Accident at Issue occurred and actually affected the safety of cars on the road at issue, Chi Chi Town Office was inadequate in managing public infrastructure, i.e., the road trees lining the road at issue and was liable for national compensation.
It was further held in this Decision that although the Defendant was negligent due to its inadequate management and maintenance of the dangerous road trees lining the road at issue, if proper management and maintenance measures such as trimming, removal or buttressing had been taken, the Accident at Issue should have been avoided based on the circumstance at that time. Since it was sufficient to establish strong causal relationship between the occurrence of the Accident at Issue and the lack of proper management and maintenance of the road trees lining the road at issue, it was ruled that Chi Chi Town Office should assume the liability for national compensation.