On the 12th January 2016 a judgment was handed down by the Israeli Supreme Court in the matter of 8238/14 Jalal Mruh Cilawee Vs Shirbit Insurance Ltd. The judgment determined that an explosive device which explodes following attachment to a vehicle does not constitute an accident as defined in the Road Accident Victims Compensation Law –  1975 (hereinafter: “the law”).

 

Background

The Israeli Legal system adopted the concept of No Fault with regard to road accident victims. Therefore Plaintiffs who were injured while driving a car or in a car prefer that their injury will be classified as a road accident.

 

Factual Background

Plaintiff left his residence, entered his vehicle, started the vehicle and commenced driving. Suddenly an explosive device attached to the vehicle exploded. As a result of the explosion Plaintiff was injured. The Court had to decide if this event should be regarded as a road accident.

 

Plaintiff argued

The test to determine the causal connection between the use of the vehicle and the damage, by law, is the test of the transportation risk.  Plaintiff argues that an event where explosive devices are attached to vehicles is a common event in Israel and as such should be considered as part of the typical risks to all those who use a vehicle in Israel.

Alternatively, Plaintiff contended that according to the law the following presumption applies.

  an event caused as a result of an explosion or the vehicle catching fire, caused by an element of the vehicle or by a material essential for the vehicle’s ability to operate, even if resulting from a cause outside the vehicle, will be deemed as a road accident”

The explosion tore the floor of the vehicle, which is an essential component for operation of the vehicle.

 

The Judgment

The case was first heard by the District Court of Haifa, which ruled that based on the definition of section 1 of the law, factual causality and legal causality connections should exist between the bodily damages caused and the use of the vehicle for transportation. It was ruled that in this case factual causality connection exists but legal causality connection does not, as the vehicle acted only as the scene of the occurrence and there is no legal causality connection between the use of the vehicle and the damage caused. It was further ruled that the chances of an explosive device being used against an innocent civilian are rare and highly unexpected. Furthermore, the Court reviewed the purpose of the law and ruled that it was not meant to harbor criminal events casualties.  The Court also addressed the argument of the presumption and ruled that it does not apply as the explosion occurred due to the explosive device and not to any key component of the vehicle.

Plaintiff filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, in which he repeated the arguments raised before the District Court.

The Supreme Court embraced the District Court ruling, stating that no legal causality connection exists between the use of the vehicle and the damage. Moreover, the Supreme Court reviewed the question whether factual causation exists.

In 1990 an 8th amendment was added to the law, stating that the basic definition of vehicle accident will be, while using the vehicle for transportation.

After the 8th amendment, the basic definition of a vehicle accident is:

an occurrence in which bodily damage is caused to a person as a result of the use of a motor vehicle, for purpose of transportation”

The amendment means that there should be a connection between the bodily damage and the use of the vehicle for transportation. This causation is similar to the causation demand in common torts laws. In this case one should ask whether the transportation element was crucial for the happening of the event.

The Court ruled that there is no dispute that driving the vehicle constitutes the definition of using the vehicle for transportation. However, the explosion of the device and the bodily injuries caused to Plaintiff, were not  followed by the use of the vehicle for transportation in the sense of “the reason that without it there is none” as the device was detonated by remote control,  and could have been denotated without the movement of the vehicle.

The detonation of the device could have been done at any stage, for example while Plaintiff was standing in proximity to the vehicle.

In the case at hand there is no causal connection between the use of the vehicle and the damage. The connection is merely a coincidence.

The Court concluded that this case, in which the device was detonated by remote control using a cellular mechanism, should be distinguished from other cases where the detonation came following and in direct contact with the ignition of the vehicle.

 

The appeal was rejected.