The facts of this case before the Austrian OGH were as follows. The late plaintiff suffered severe head injuries in a traffic accident in November 1994. The insurer of the defendant was notified in the same month; consequently, criminal charges were raised against the defendant. In May 1996 the late Plaintiff was placed under guardianship in respect of legal representation before civil authorities and vis-à-vis private contractual partners. In mid-1996 the late plaintiff engaged a lawyer, who entered into negotiations with the Defendant?s insurer. In October 1996 the plaintiff was diagnosed with a severe psychological disorder in the context of introducing legal guardianship. In April 1998 the defendant was convicted to pay a fine in the criminal proceedings; the late plaintiff was referred to the civil courts as regards his claim for compensation. The late plaintiff lodged a claim in June 1998; the proceedings were continued by his heirs after his death. The defendant invoked prescription of the claim.
The Court of first instance rejected the claim. The Court of Appeal squashed the judgement and referred the case back to the Court of first instance, while allowing an appeal to the OGH.
The OGH rejected this appeal by the defendant. The interruption of prescription under Section 1494 ABGB applies also if the psychological disorder or mental disability is of such nature that a legal guardian is needed to lodge, or defend against, legal claims. This holds even more true if a legal guardian has been appointed for exactly this reason. It is irrelevant that the late plaintiff was then represented by a lawyer, because Section 1494 ABGB cites only the representation by guardianship as a ground for ending the interruption. The prescription of the claims has been interrupted at least since October 1996; thus, they were not prescribed when lodging the claim in June 1998.European Review of Private Law