Judgment: Disabled parking must be really disabled

Federal Constitutional Court stresses the need for municipal road safety
Karlsruhe( jur).Handicapped parking is not allowed. The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe( Az.: 1 BvR 2012/13) states in a resolution published on Thursday, April 21, 2016, that municipalities are not allowed to sit in a wheelchair, which is an unacceptable disadvantage for handicapped people. If wheelchair users fall because of the cobbled pavement, compensation for damages and pain compensation is due to faulty traffic safety requirements of the municipality.

In the specific case, it was about a disastrous parking in a handicapped parking place directly at the town hall of the district town Ratzeburg in Schleswig-Holstein. On 6 November 2009, the applicant, a wheelchair user, had fallen from her car into her wheelchair. She broke her right lower leg.

Judgment on disabled parking. Image: Dan Race - fotolia Judgment on disabled parking. Image: Dan Race - fotolia

For the fall she made the condition of the disabled parking space responsible. The municipality had provided it with a historic cobblestone pavement. This is not suitable for wheelchairs. When changing to their roller-skates, they slipped away because of the soil texture.

From the municipality, she asked for compensation for pain and damages amounting to 4,957 euros. The Kreisstadt had not complied with its traffic safety obligation and did not design the handicapped parking space disabled.

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She had no success before the Schleswig-Holstein Oberlandesgericht( OLG).The Schleswiger judges, however, had not examined whether the cobblestone plaster was unsuitable for wheelchair users and therefore was responsible for the fall. A liability of the Kreisstadt is already excluded, because the wheelchair-driver himself has exposed to "avoidable danger".

Because she had already known before her fall from the cobblestone pavement. As an "activist" for disabled rights, she had already participated in an action day in the spring of 2009, pointing out the lack of proper parking space. Since she knew about the dangerous nature of the parking lot, she had to move to another parking lot. It is obliged to avoid a personal risk. The OLG Schleswig also argued that the same applies to non-disabled people who move in unsecured parking areas during ice and snow.

In its decision of 24 March 2016, however, the Federal Constitutional Court( Bundesverfassungsgericht) considered that the wheelchair user's constitutional complaint was "obviously justified".According to the basic law, disabled people can only be made worse if there are "compelling reasons" for this. A prohibited discrimination against handicapped persons, however, may be present if they are excluded from possibilities for development and action.

The appellant used a parking lot in Ratzeburg, "which was intended for people with disabilities".However, a non-wheelchair-friendly design of a disabled parking lot is a handicap, since the state has a promotion contract which allows for the equal participation of disabled persons in everyday life. Disability-related disadvantages must therefore be eliminated.

Whether in the concrete case the cobblestone pavement actually was not wheelchair-friendly and was cause for a fall, therefore the OLG must once again examine, according to the Federal Constitutional Court. If the municipality did not extend disabled parking facilities to disabled people, there could be compensation for damages and pain. A possible negligence on the part of the wheelchair user could not have such a weight that she is completely excluded from claims for damages.(fb / mwo)

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