Accident Compensation: Court Enhances Compensation for Victim in Vegetative State

April 18, 2018

Case name: Master Basid v. K. Sanu & Ors.

In an extremely saddening facts and circumstances of the instant case, the Kerala High Court while substantiating on the sorrow and pain of a mother has passed an exemplary order by awarding the mother of motor vehicle accident victim compensation of Rs. 15,00000/-.

Brief facts of the case: A minor child named Basid met with an accident at the age of six. In the accident Basid sustained severe injuries and is in a virtual lifeless state for more than 11 years. The Motor Vehicle Tribunal in the case awarded an amount of Rs.31,05,765/- as compensation against the claim for Rs.38,01,000/-. Hence, the issue before the Court was whether the measure and extent of the compensation awarded by the Tribunal and whether it required any escalation or reduction?

The claimant in the case sought enhancement of compensation alleging that the same would not be sufficient to take care of the child’s future treatment since even assuming that for the last eleven years an amount of Rs.20,000/- per month had been spent for his medical care.

In the case the Respondent Insurance Company challenged the award of compensation stating that the amounts granted under the heads of ‘loss of studies’, ‘loss of earning power’ and ‘loss of amenities of life’ by the Tribunal were subsumed under the head ‘compensation for continued permanent disability’.

Pursuant to taking into account the exceptional facts and circumstances of the present case, precedents on quantum of compensation in such cases and based on the medical reports of the child, the Kerala High Court dismissed the arguments advanced by the Respondent Insurance Company and also enhanced the amount of compensation.

The Kerala High Court made the following noteworthy observations in the case:

  • That the courts are to abjure speculation and conjunctures while assessing damages, but that it can award amounts under multiple heads, as long as its endeavour is to ensure that just compensation is obtained to the victim. There is also an added obligation on the part of the courts, while assessing just compensation, to keep in mind that there is a distinction between pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages and compensation.
  • The Kerala High Court relied on Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Master Mallikarjun v. Divisional Manager, The National Insurance Company Limited & Anr.[1], wherein the Court opined that it is difficult to have an accurate assessment of the compensation in the case of children suffering disability on account of a motor vehicle accident, having regard to the relevant factors, precedents and the approach of various High Courts, the appropriate compensation on all other heads in addition to the actual expenditure for treatment, attendant, etc., should be, if the disability is above 10% and upto 30% to the whole body, Rs.3 lakhs; upto 60%, Rs.4 lakhs; upto 90%, Rs.5 lakhs and above 90%, it should be Rs.6 lakhs. For permanent disability upto 10%, it should be Re.1lakh, unless there are exceptional circumstances to take different yardstick.
  • With reference to the facts of the present case, the Court noted that there was no hope for the child, even as per the latest medical report, of attaining even a semblance of dignified life and his condition has worsened in the last 11 years. The medical reports suggested that the appellant may not be able to move his body again. It is more or less certain that he will continue to be in a minimally conscious state. The medical board also says that the average monthly expenditure in future would be about Rs.25,000/-.
  • Noting that the pleadings and materials on record would make it indubitable that the claimant’s family does not have any other access to resource to generate this amount and considering that father of the victim has died, the Court awarded the victim a corpus of Rs.35,00,000/- for his future treatment.
  • The Kerala High Court while relying on the case of Raman v. Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited and Others[2] awarded the victim’s mother a sum of Rs. 15,00,000 based on Mother’s lost life. The Court while awarding the sum noted that the mother’s life is virtually lost and she has been robbed of all happiness and peace in her life for over 11 years.

The entire case can be accessed here.

Related Posts:

Also read Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 – SC issues guidelines on Assessment of Compensation

Also read Landmark Judgments on Motor Vehicle Act in 2017

  

[1] (2013 (3) KLJ 815)

[2] ((2014) 15 SCC 1)

About the Author

Shilpi Sharan

- Shilpi Sharan is the Editor at Vakilno1.com - an Advocate with extensive knowledge in myriad fields of Law. She has a flair of writing and has legal publications in national and international law magazines to her credit. She focuses on legal research and aims at raising public awareness of laws in India.