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Supreme Court reverses decision of High Court of Karnataka and enhances Motor accident award amount

December 19, 2017

Supreme Court enhanced motor accident compensation

A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Dr. D Y Chandrachud disposed of the appeal filed by a Motor accident victim in which the High Court of Karnataka had reversed a decision of Motor Accident Claims tribunal awarding compensation to the appellant in the amount of Rs. 8,66,000/- with interest of 7% per annum. The Supreme Court bench has enhanced compensation and amount for future expenses  by Rs. 2,70,000/- and directed for payment of the amount within 12 weeks of passing the Judgment.


The accident took place on 24 September 2005 when the appellant was 28 years old. On 24 September 2005 he was visiting Sirigere to attend an event. A demonstration of tractors was being held at 11.30 A.M. by Sonalika tractors. The appellant, who is an agriculturist, claimed that when he approached the tractor, the driver was unable to bring it to a halt as a result of which it turned turtle and collided with the appellant resulting in his sustaining grievous injuries. A first information report was registered at the Bharamasagara Police Station under Case Crime 147 of 2005 and a charge-sheet was filed against the driver for offences punishable under Sections 279 and 338 of the Penal Code. 

The appellant claimed compensation in the amount of Rs.25,00,000/-. The evidence indicated that immediately after the accident the appellant was taken for treatment to the community health centre, Sirigere where he was administered first aid. He was thereafter shifted to Bapuji Hospital, Davangere from where he was referred to the M S Ramayya Hospital, Bangalore for further treatment. The medical records showed that the appellant had suffered paraplegia with a compression fracture. The appellant has been permanently immobilized, is wheel-chair bound, and requires artificial support for bladder and bowel evacuation. The lower portion of his body has been paralyzed. The Doctor examined him deposed in evidence that the disability of the appellant is one hundred per cent since both his lower limbs have been paralyzed resulting in a loss of bladder and bowel control.

The insurer took the defence before the Tribunal that the appellant was riding on the mudguard of the tractor, this having been stated in the FIR. According to the insurer, the policy of insurance did not cover the risk of anyone other than the driver of the tractor. The Tribunal rejected the defence of the insurer and relied upon the testimony of the appellant which was found to have been corroborated by the evidence of an eye-witness to the incident. On the aspect of compensation the Tribunal noted that the appellant belongs to a family of agriculturists which has a land holding of 5 acres and 25 gunthas. The appellant was married. The Tribunal did not accept the plea of the appellant that his monthly income was Rs.10,000/-, in the absence of cogent proof. The Tribunal assumed the income of the appellant to be Rs.3,000/- per month. The age of the appellant at the time of the accident being 28 years, the Tribunal applied a multiplier of 16 and computed the compensation on account of the loss of future earning capacity at Rs.5,76,000/-. An additional amount of Rs.50,000/- was awarded towards loss of amenities and Rs.30,000/- for future medical expenses. An amount of Rs.2,10,000/- was awarded towards medical expenses, pain and suffering. Consequently, a total compensation of Rs.8,66,000/- was awarded together with interest at 7% per annum from the date of the claim petition until realization. The driver, owner and insurer have been held to be jointly and severally liable.

The appellant filed an appeal for enhancement of compensation. The insurer had also filed an appeal questioning its liability. The High Court has allowed the appeal of the insurer and dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant.

While disposing of the appeal the court said and directed that:

"The medical evidence on the record shows that the lower limbs of the appellant have been paralyzed resulting in a loss of bladder and bowel control. The medical evidence establishes that the disability of the appellant is one hundred per cent. The medical records have been scrutinized by the Tribunal. The appellant suffers from traumatic paraplegia and was hospitalized for 42 days. The appellant was 28 years of age when the accident took place on 24 September 2005. In our view, the monthly income of the appellant, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case should be taken at Rs.4,000/-. After allowing for future prospects and making a deduction for present expenses, the compensation payable to the appellant shall stand enhanced by an amount of Rs.1,50,000/- from Rs.5,75,000/- to Rs.7,75,000/-. The amount for future medical expenses which has been fixed at Rs.30,000/- should be enhanced to Rs.1,20,000/- having regard to the serious nature of the disability. In other words, the compensation of Rs.8,66,000/- awarded by the Tribunal shall be enhanced by an additional amount of Rs.2,70,000/-. The appellant shall be entitled to interest @7% p.a. from the date of the claim petition until realization. The insurer shall deposit the compensation or, as the case may be, the balance payable in terms of this judgment within a period of 12 weeks from today before the Tribunal which shall be released to the appellant upon due verification."




Read the Judgment of Supreme Court dated 15.12.2017



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