Autonomous vehicles law and regulation in Croatia

1. Is the testing of AVs (SAE Levels 3-5) permitted on public roads in your jurisdiction?

The traffic regulation is in the domain of local and regional authorities that decide the roads that may be used for test driving. Although a certain road may be designated for vehicle testing, companies must still file individual requests for testing. The granting of testing permits is subject to prior consent of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. 

According to the comment obtained from authorities, the testing of AVs (SAE levels 3 to 5) will probably not be permitted on public roads since these vehicles would not comply with (currently existing) technical conditions for vehicles allowed on public roads.  Since there are no general rules in place on testing, the requests for testing permits are assessed on a case-by-case basis. 

2. Are consumers permitted to use AVs (SAE Levels 3-5) on public roads in your jurisdiction?

There are no rules that explicitly prohibit use of AVs level 3 to 5 on public roads. In general, all vehicles participating in traffic on public roads have to be registered, either in Croatia or abroad. They must hold a valid registration certificate and comply with technical requirements stipulated in bylaws. 

If the AV complies with technical requirements and obtains a valid registration certificate in Croatia, it can be used on public roads. When it comes to vehicles registered abroad, in order to participate in traffic in Croatia, these vehicles would still have to comply with the technical conditions stipulated for vehicles registered in Croatia. 

However, according to unofficial information obtained from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the use of AVs (SAE levels 3 to 5) would probably not be possible since these vehicles do not comply with (currently existing) technical conditions and Croatian public roads are not adapted for their use. 

3. Who has liability for damages caused by a car in automated driving mode?

No special liability regime has been adopted for AVs. Thus, liability for damages could be allocated to an owner or a manufacturer in accordance with existing civil liability rules on motor vehicles stipulated in the Civil Obligations Act (the “COA”).

Cars in automated driving mode could fall under the of term “motor vehicles” from the COA. In order for the liability rules to apply, a motor vehicle has to be in operation mode meaning that the vehicle is being used for its intended purpose, regardless of whether its motor is running or not. 

An owner of a motor vehicle is liable for damages inflicted upon third persons caused by the operation of the vehicle. As the operating motor vehicle is considered to be a dangerous object, the owner’s liability is of an objective and strict nature and the injured party does not have to prove the owner’s fault. Also, the causal link between the damage and the car is presumed unless the owner of the car proves otherwise.  

All motor vehicles are subject to mandatory insurance coverage. Thus, it is more likely that the injured party would seek damages from the owner as the damage compensation should be easily obtainable from the insurer.

However, the manufacturer of a motor vehicle could also be held liable in accordance with the COA’s rules on liability for defective products. If the damage was caused due to defects in the vehicle, the manufacturer will be liable regardless of fault. A product will be deemed to have a defect when – taking into account all the circumstances and the manner a product is presented, the purposes for which it can be reasonably used and the time when it is placed on the market – it does not ensure the safety that can be reasonably expected. When relying on manufacturer liability, the injured party must prove that the vehicle had a defect and that there is a causal link between the defect and the damage. These special rules on liability for defective products are applicable to material damage while the general liability regime applies to non-material damage.

4. Are there any specific mandatory insurance requirements for AVs?

There are no specific rules.

The Act on Mandatory Insurance in Traffic stipulates the insurance coverage that an owner is obliged to obtain to use a vehicle in traffic. 

For the purpose of this regulation, a vehicle is any motor vehicle designed to be used on land that operates using an engine. Since an AV falls under the scope of this definition, its owner would have to obtain third-party liability insurance for the vehicle that covers accidents causing damage to property or injury to anyone other than the driver.

5. Is there general liability based on warranty claims against the manufacturer for AVs?

As there are no specific rules for AVs, one could invoke the general rules regarding warranties and manufacturer’s liability. 

If a manufacturer provides a warranty for quality of products during a specific period, the buyer may request both the seller and the manufacturer to repair the product within a reasonable period or, if he fails to do so, request a replacement product. 

Regardless of claims for repair or replacement under the warranty, when it comes to liability for damages, the general rule still applies regarding strict manufacturer liability for damages caused by product defects. 

Portrait of Marija Zrno Prošić
Marija Zrno Prošić
Partner
Zagreb
Portrait of Karmen Sinožić
Karmen Sinožić
Attorney-at-Law
Zagreb