Vehicle owner is liable to pay compensation for accident caused by minor and not insurance company: Karnataka High Court

Published - June 12, 2024 01:06 am IST

It is the owner of the motor vehicle who is liable to pay compensation to the claimants in a road accident caused by the vehicle driven by a minor and the insurance company cannot be even directed to “pay the amount and recover it from the vehicle owner” in such instances, the High Court of Karnataka has said.

The court also said that the principle of “pay and recover” cannot be applicable when the vehicle is driven by a minor as it does not fall under Section 149 (2)(ii) of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 that deals with the case of insured vehicle being driven by a person who is not duly licensed or disqualified for holding a driving licence during the disqualified period in violation of the law.

A minor boy of 16 years cannot be brought into the category of “not duly licensed persons” under Section 149 (2)(ii) of the MV Act as he is not even qualified for applying for a driving licence and hence no liability can be fixed on the insurance company, the court said.

Justice Hanchate Sanjeevkumar passed the order while allowing an appeal filed by the New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Kundapur in Udupi district.

The insurance company had questioned the Kundapur motor accident claims tribunal’s 2014 award of directing the company to pay ₹2.56 lakh as compensation to the claimants.

A 16 year-old-boy, who had driven a two-wheeler belonging to a person known to him, had rammed the vehicle into a 61-year-old pedestrian at Bhatkal town in Uttara Kannada district in 2008, resulting in the death of the pedestrian. The legal heirs of the victim had sought compensation from the insurance company and the vehicle owner.

Meanwhile, after reassessing the compensation, the High Court directed the vehicle owner, Mohammed Mustafa of Bhatkal to pay compensation of ₹4.44 lakh to the legal heirs of the victim.

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