Tortious liability, tort liability or even fault liability – what exactly is meant by this? The legal term refers to a type of legal responsibility related to a tort. Read in this article the exact definition of the term as well as examples of tort liability and claims for damages.

Table of contents

  1. Tort Liability Definition
  2. Further essential information
  3. Fault-based liability
  4. Who is excluded from tort liability?
  5. Limitation of tort liability

Tortious liability – definition

In a legal sense, tortious liability refers to a person’s obligation to pay for damages resulting from tortious conduct. Sections 823 to 853 of the German Civil Code (BGB) regulate these cases.

§ Section 823 of the BGB states that the person who unlawfully injures the life, health, body, property or freedom of another person intentionally or through gross negligence is liable to pay damages.

Tort liability is also a consequence of violations of the law. Other examples of possible tort liability are:

  • sexual assault,
  • immoral damage or
  • Breach of official duty (BGB § 824).

These are all examples of torts that may give rise to liability for damages.

Further essential information

Tort liability is not about contractual obligations, but about legal misconduct. In addition to claims for damages arising from breach of contract, there may also be claims for damages arising from tortious conduct. A claim for tortious liability against the managing director of a company can be brought against his or her private assets.

Tortious liability = fault-based liability

Anyone who culpably destroys another person’s property is liable to pay damages under tort law (keyword: indemnity). Section 823 of the German Civil Code (BGB) regulates the following:

  1. A person who knowingly or negligently injures the health, safety or rights of another in any of these areas (including his or her own) is liable to pay damages, whether or not the injury was intended.
  2. A person who violates a law designed to protect another person is subject to the same legal consequences. As long as the law expressly provides that one may violate it, even if one is not at fault, one is liable only if one has acted culpably.

Who is excluded from tort liability?

There is no or only limited tort liability for minors or people with mental disabilities or limitations who cause harm to others. Likewise, tort liability differs from contractual liability and product liability, as it only applies if the damage is not compensable under a contractual agreement.

Statute of limitations for tortious liability

The limitation period of a tortious liability is governed by the general provision of § 195 of the German Civil Code, according to which the limitation period of claims is three years for both property damage and personal injury. At the end of the year in which:

  1. the claim for damages has arisen, and
  2. the creditor has become aware of the claim for damages,

the limitation period begins, § 199 para. 1 BGB. Furthermore, there is an absolute period of limitation of 30 years for personal injury and a maximum period of 10 to 30 years for property damage, depending on the circumstances. Our lawyers at the Herfurtner law firm will examine your individual case comprehensively and trustworthily. Contact us now.