Tamil Nadu

HC enhances motor accident compensation ₹1.5 crore

A view of the Madras High Court. File   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The Madras High Court on Wednesday enhanced from ₹18.43 lakh to ₹1.5 crore, the motor accident compensation awarded by a tribunal to a young woman dentist, who was knocked down from her two-wheeler and run over by a Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) bus on April 18, 2013. The woman had suffered 90% disability after the accident and was now bound to a wheelchair besides being dependant on catheter tubes and motion bags due to lack of control over bowel and bladder movement.

Justices N. Kirubakaran and Abdul Quddhose directed the MTC to deposit the enhanced amount, along with interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum from the date of claim, before the tribunal within 12 weeks. On such deposit, the tribunal was directed to transfer ₹68 lakh to the victim’s account and ₹2 lakh to her husband’s account since it had been awarded towards loss of marital bliss. The victim was only 28-years-old when the accident occurred, and the couple had a minor daughter.

The court ordered that ₹50 lakh should be deposited in the name of the girl and the victim could withdraw the interest accrued out of such deposit once in two months for fulfilling the child’s needs. The balance amount of ₹30 lakh awarded towards future medical expenses should be deposited in a separate bank account and the monthly interest should be utilised for the expenses, the Bench said and made it clear that no part of the compensation amount should be subjected to income tax.

Though the MTC had claimed that the victim was responsible for the accident and accused her of having attempted to overtake the bus from the left, the judges refused to accept such contention and pointed out that the tribunal had given a clear finding that the victim was hit by the rear of the bus when the vehicle suddenly swerved towards the right. The Bench held that the bus driver alone could be held responsible for the accident though he had been acquitted from a criminal case booked in this regard.

“Judgements of criminal court do not bind civil court. The proof before the criminal court should be beyond doubt whereas in civil proceedings, judgments are based on preponderance of probabilities,” the Division Bench said. It pointed out that the present appeal for enhancement of compensation had been preferred only by the victim whereas MTC had not filed any appeal challenging the finding of the tribunal with respect to the negligence on the part of the bus driver.

However, finding that the tribunal had wrongly fixed the monthly income of the woman dentist to be ₹7,000 to arrive at the compensation amount, the judges fixed her monthly income to be ₹30,000 and added 50% towards future prospects to arrive at a total loss of income to be ₹45,000 per month. Since the victim was 28-years-old at the time of the accident, the monthly income was multiplied for 17 more years to award her ₹91.80 lakh towards loss of income alone.

Further, the court awarded ₹22.5 lakh towards charges for engaging an attendant to take care of the victim. Money was awarded for loss of amenities, transportation and so on to arrive at the total quantum of ₹1.5 crore.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 5:55:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-enhances-motor-insurance-claim/article34379317.ece

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