Motor Accident Claim: Courts Should Be Mindful That Serious Injury Inflicts Deep Mental & Emotional Scars Upon Victim- SC
The Supreme Court while dealing with an appeal filed against the judgment passed by the Karnataka High Court in the case of Shri Sidram S/o Raju Bhosale v. Shri Siddu Mahadev Bhosale & Anr. observed that the Courts should be mindful in case of motor accident matters that a serious injury imposes physical limitations and inflicts deep mental and emotional scars upon the victim.
The Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice J.B. Pardiwala while relying upon the case of Pappu Deo Yadav v. Naresh Kumar and Others, AIR 2020 SCC 4424 observed –
"Before we close this matter, it needs to be underlined, as observed in Pappu Deo Yadav (supra) that Courts should be mindful that a serious injury not only permanently imposes physical limitations and disabilities but too often inflicts deep mental and emotional scars upon the victim. The attendant trauma of the victim's having to live in a world entirely different from the one she or he is born into, as an invalid, and with degrees of dependence on others, robbed of complete personal choice or autonomy, should forever be in the judge's mind, whenever tasked to adjudge compensation claims."
Advocate Anand Sanjay M. Nuli appeared on behalf of the appellant while Advocate Maibam Nabaghanashyam Singh appeared for the respondent i.e., the insurance company.
Facts of the Case –
The appellant i.e., the claimant suffered grievous injuries in a road accident that occurred on July 18, 2012, while he was walking on the left side of the Kulgod-Gokak Road. The appellant was near the Laxmeshwar crossing and at that time a goods vehicle being driven in a rash and negligent manner banged into the appellant. He was shifted to a hospital and was treated as an indoor patient until August 2012. Due to such an accident, the appellant suffered permanent disability to the extent of 45%. He suffered from paraplegia on account of the accident. He was in the business of selling utensils in different villages in the district.
The appellant, therefore, filed a claim petition before the First Additional Senior Civil Division Judge & MACT, Belgaum. Before the Tribunal, the appellant i.e., the claimant examined himself and examined Dr. Anil B. Patil in respect of his claim, and various other documents were taken on record as evidence. The Tribunal held that the accident took place due to the rash and negligent driving of the offending vehicle as a result of which, the appellant sustained injuries and was awarded pecuniary as well as non-pecuniary damages. The compensation awarded by the Tribunal amounted to Rs. 6,13,000/-. However, the appellant was not satisfied by the decision of the Tribunal and hence, filed an appeal in the High Court praying for enhancement of the compensation on the ground that the Tribunal ought to have awarded enhanced compensation based on the evidence adduced. The High Court had enhanced the compensation to Rs. 9,26,800/-.
The appellant was still not satisfied with the enhanced compensation awarded by the High Court. Therefore the appellant filed an appeal in the Supreme Court urging various contentions in support of further enhancement of the compensation.
The Supreme Court while dealing with this case noted that "The process of determining the compensation by the court is essentially a very difficult task and can never be an exact science. Perfect compensation is hardly possible, more so in claims of injury and disability."
The Court also referred to the case of H. West & Son Ltd. v. Shephard, 1958-65 ACJ 504 (HL, England) in which it was pointed out that "…money cannot renew a physical frame that has been battered."
The Court further noted –
"It is now a well settled position of law that even in cases of permanent disablement incurred as a result of a motor-accident, the claimant can seek, apart from compensation for future loss of income, amounts for future prospects as well."
The Apex Court after referring to various cases stated that "In view of the aforesaid, we award an amount of Rs. 50,000/- for the loss of amenities taking into consideration the fact that the appellant was 19 years old at the time of the accident, and also considering the nature of injuries suffered by him and the extent of his disability." The Court in this regard awarded a total compensation of Rs. 21,78,600/- taking into account the following factors:
1. Loss of earning due to disability
2. Loss of earning for 6 months
3. Medical expenses
4. Future medical expenses
5. Attendant Charges
6. Litigation charges
7. Loss of conveyance
8. Pain and suffering
9. Marriage prospects
10. Loss of amenities
The Court further observed –
"Severe limitations inflicted due to such injuries undermine the dignity (which is now recognized as an intrinsic component of the right to life under Article 21) of the individual, thus depriving the person of the essence of the right to a wholesome life which she or he had lived, hitherto. From the world of the able bodied, the victim is thrust into the world of the disabled, itself most discomfiting and unsettling. If courts nit-pick and award niggardly amounts oblivious of these circumstances, there is resultant affront to the injured victim."
The Court at last directed and held –
"We, therefore, direct the respondent No. 1 herein – insurance company to pay the appellant-claimant the difference in the compensation awarded herein as against the amount of Rs. 9,26,800/- as awarded by the High Court. The amount awarded by this Court shall be deposited by the respondent No. 1 – insurance company within a period of eight weeks from today after adjusting the amount already deposited. The rate of interest at the enhanced amount is to be the same i.e., 6% per annum."
Accordingly, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal and disposed of the pending application.
Cause Title – Sidram v. The Divisional Manager, United India Insurance Co. Ltd. and Anr.