Threshold Criteria for the Road Accident Victims Compensation Law: Trends of Uneven Expansion and Reduction
7 Haifa L. Rev. 155-96, 2012
42 Pages Posted: 23 May 2013
Date Written: May 21, 2013
The paper discusses a somewhat non-uniform trend in the Israeli Supreme Court rulings in recent years regarding the minimal requirements for qualifying under the Road-Accident Victims Compensation Law and awarding compensation to the injured by virtue of the law, and in exceeding the boundaries of the law in filing tort actions. This paper presents three test cases for this trend, which provide an ambiguous answer to the question of whether, interpreting the law, the court tends to reduce or expand the minimal qualifications. The paper also investigates the reason for this lack or of uniformity.
I show that the results of this lack of uniformity are not always reasonable. On one hand, "innocent" victims do not have a de facto ability to sue anyone for their damage and are denied the right to file claims against insurers due to a narrow interpretation of the law, though their injury could have been interpreted, even if narrowly, as coverd by the law. On the other hand, people who are not "innocent" and violated the basic rules of driving (such as driving without a driving license, insurance coverage, or permission; or using a vehicle as a weapon, or to commit a crime) and were injured, may file claims both within the framework of the law or outside it. This result is not only unjust; it is also inconsistent with the social purpose of the law and with the policy whereby criminals should not benefit from their actions, a policy that reflects a public interest of utmost importance.
I show that the lack of uniformity produces results that harm "innocent" victims who were injured in carjacking incidents. If they are not covered by the law, then contrary to the principle of loss distribution, these victims cannot sue any other party de facto, so that the damage is allowed to remain where it fell. In light of the new Israeli Supreme Court interpretation, these injured parties face a hopeless situation in which the law does not apply to them. Such an interpretation is also inconsistent with the general tendency to increase the rights of the victims, including in civil law, particularly when the option to file a civil suit is not available to them. By contrast, injured parties that are not "innocent" and violate the basic rules of the driving act are often compensated by virtue of the law. Moreover, drivers who are not "innocent" and do not qualify under the Road Accident Victims Compensation Law still have the alternative of filing a claim under the Tort Law Ordinance, which in some respects is even better than filing a claim under the Road Accident Victims Compensation Law. I offer other interpretations that could change the outcome for "innocent" parties injured in carjacking incidents.
Note: Downloadable document is in Hebrew.
Keywords: tort, road accidents
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