HC: don’t attribute contributory negligence for not wearing helmet

File photo used for representational purpose only.  

The Kerala High Court has held that a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) cannot attribute contributory negligence to a deceased or the injured two-wheeler riders and deduct compensation on that count, simply because the rider did not wear a helmet at the time of the accident.

Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan made the observation while disposing of an appeal filed against the Tirur Motor Accident Claims Tribunal order deducting a certain amount from the compensation awarded to the legal heirs of the deceased pillion rider on contributory negligence grounds.

The court, however, added that this verdict did not give licence to riders to drive motorcycles without wearing a helmet and observed that the authorities concerned should see that Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act (compulsory wearing of helmets) was complied with in letter and spirit.

The court observed that simply because there was a violation of Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 by a victim in an accident, there was no presumption that there was contributory negligence on the part of the person who was not wearing the helmet.

It was to be decided in the facts and circumstances of each case. There was no doubt that Section 129 was mandatory. Admittedly, the deceased who was a pillion rider had not used a helmet at the time of the accident. Therefore, there was a violation of Section 129.

The tribunal could not fix contributory negligence while assessing compensation in such circumstances. It was the duty of the claims tribunal to assess compensation arising out of an accident. Besides, the consequences of the non-wearing of a helmet by rider or pillion rider could not be a reason for their vehicle being knock down.

The apex court had observed that for attracting contributory negligence, there must be either a casual connection between violation and accident or a casual connection between violation and impacts of the accident upon the victim, the court pointed out.

The court set aside the finding of the tribunal regarding the contributory negligence attributed on the part of the deceased rider.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 3:41:31 PM |

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