strict liability regime

The Strict Liability Regime for Traffic Accidents  

This article discusses the strict liability regime for traffic accidents. Above all, numerous people get injured or lose their lives in road traffic accidents every year in Turkey. Strict liability regime applicable to tort law and compensation procedures will be clarified here. Strict liability as applied to criminal law is beyond the scope of this paper. 

What is a traffic accident? 

To clarify, traffic accident means an event involving one or more vehicles moving on the highway, resulting in death, injury and damage. Hence, a traffic accident may contain several types among others single vehicle accidents, multi-vehicle collisions, collisions between vehicles and pedestrians or animals. 

How many car accidents happen per year in Turkey? 

According to the recent statistics, almost 983.000 traffic accidents occurred in total during the year 2020. Among all, 833 thousand 533 accidents ended with material loss and 150 thousand 275 ended with death or injury. 

For recent traffic accidents data, the Turkish Statistical Institute Data is available online here.

What is worse, the accident rates are increasing day by day.  It is clear to suggest that traffic accidents have been a major problem in Turkey. In this regard every single potential victim must make sure that he/she has rights to lodge an application for compensation or legal liabilities against motor vehicle operators, as will be indicated below. 

Who is the victim of a traffic accident? 

A person receiving simple, serious or even life-threatening bodily injuries or facing financial expenses because of a traffic accident is a victim within the context of Law of Obligations. 

Is the compensation possible for personal injuries or damage caused by a road traffic accident?

Within the context of legal liability of traffic accidents, we should analyze the tortfeasor’s conduct in the Turkish legal framework. A typical “strict liability regime” for damage or injury caused by motor vehicles is laid down in article 85 of the Highway Traffic Law (Law No: 2918). 

The Highway Traffic Law (Law No: 2918) is available online here. 

What is the strict liability regime? 

“Strict liability doctrine” means legal responsibility of relevant individuals for damage or injury caused by their actions or products. Strict liability does not require any proof of their negligence or fault. More specifically the strict liability regime is not interested in the question of who has a fault or negligence for the accident. Regardless of the question of who is at fault or negligence, the said regime provides the liability of both owner and user together for any damage caused as a result of a motor vehicle being “in operation”. Even diplomatic immunities are not applicable to traffic accidents. Every single person regardless of his/her identity may be held responsible for damages or injuries caused. 

Art. 85 of the Law in question imposes “strict liability” upon the “operator” of a “motor vehicle” for any personal injury, death and property damage, resulting from the “operation of a motor vehicle”. For that reason, the victim of any traffic accident has a right to bring a compensation case against the operator within the context of “strict liability doctrine”. It might be a material and moral compensation.

For our work and all legal services on the matter of compensation, please click our Practice Areas, titled Compensation.

Then who is operator? 

Generally speaking, the term of \”operator\” implies the person who is

  • the owner of the vehicle, 
  • seen as a buyer in the registry,
  • the tenant, mortgagee and pledgee in cases such as long-term rental, borrowing or pledge of the vehicle.


To conclude, the present study explains compensation and civil law procedures for injuries or death. This study has shown that approximately 150.000 traffic accidents involving death or injury occur per year in Turkey. The findings reported here shed new light on the fact that every single person may face a serious accident in Turkey. Hence please follow up a “better safe than sorry” strategy. On-the-ground, legal consultation may play a key role in understanding and carrying out  relevant legal commitments of “operator of a motor vehicle”. Through a full-fledged consultation, victims may provide full compensation as a remedy for any injury or damage resulting from a traffic accident.

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