Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Family is not responsible for the accident caused by demented person:Japan Supreme Court

Previously, I wrote a lawsuit case of dementia.

A senior citizen entered a railway to be hit by the train. Surprisingly, the railway company sued the family of the individual for interfering the traffic.

The Court decided that family members were responsible for preventing the demented person from causing damage to the railway company. The amount of compensation fee reached 30,000 USD, halved by the High Court from the initial decision of the District Court.

The family appealed to the Supreme Court because the High Court also admit the responsibility of the family. And recently, the Supreme Court judged that they were not liable to this accident. Thus, this conflict terminated as the defeat of the railway company.

I guess many clinicians approve this decision of the Supreme Court. I also admit it. The decision of the Supreme Court is powerful as if it is an established legislation. If the Supreme Court had admitted the responsibility of the family, most families of demented person would have been fearful of being sued by railway companies or other public transportation. It is not rare in Japan for patients with dementia to be victimized in a traffic accident. To prevent such incidents completely, families have to restrict the person with dementia for 24 hours. In this case, families would be sued for violation of the human right of the person with dementia.

In Japan, millions of people are suffering from dementia. Some of them have uncontrollable behavioral symptoms in addition to cognitive impairment. Similar cases will occasionally occur, because population aging is inevitable in Japan.

Even in the case in which the family is considered to be liable to the accident, it is doubtful that the family member can really compensate the damage. Nowadays, some families do not have enough money to take care of their parents. It is feasible to blame such families on the accident which is hardly preventable.

Therefore, I think this court decision is not only valid but also practical. In Japan, we have to be tolerant to cases caused by demented people, on some occasion.

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