The Supreme Court has enhanced the motor accident claim award of a 5-year-old who was permanently disabled in a road accident.

A two-judge Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V Ramasubramanian while enhancing the motor accident claim award has held that the mental and physical loss of the victim cannot be computed in terms of money but there is no other way to compensate except by payment of just compensation.

In this context, the Bench observed –

"The determination of damages in personal injury cases is not easy. The mental and physical loss cannot be computed in terms of money but there is no other way to compensate the victim except by payment of just compensation."

An appeal was preferred by the 5-year-old victim of a road accident challenging the order of the High Court which had awarded a compensation of Rs. Rs.13,46,805/-, as against Rs. 18,24,000/- awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

The Appellant was aggrieved with respect to the inadequate amount of compensation as against the injuries suffered by him.

As per the discharge certificate of the hospital, the Appellant was unable to move his legs and had a complete sensory loss in the legs, urinary incontinence, bowel constipation, and bed soreness. The Appellant was just 5 years old when the accident took place.

The Apex Court rejected the finding of the Tribunal that the father of the Appellant did not place any material to show his occupation or income and held that the father had once stated that he was a Secretary to the Gram Panchayat hence he had disclosed his occupation. The Court also noted that as a Secretary to the Gram Panchayat, he was a government servant.

The Bench further observed that the compensation worked out to be Rs.3700/- plus 40%, which amounts to Rs.5180/- per month. The multiplier of 18 would be applicable in view of the age of the appellant. The loss of future earnings due to the Permanent Disability for life thus works out to be Rs.11,18,880/-, i.e., (3700+1480=5180) x 12 x 18.

The Court while holding that the determination of damages in personal injury cases is not easy opined –

"…we find that in view of the physical condition, the appellant is entitled to one attendant for the rest of his life though he may be able to walk with the help of assistant device. The device also requires to be replaced every 5 years. Therefore, it is reasonable to award cost of 2 devices i.e., Rs.10 lakhs. The appellant has not only lost his childhood but also adult life. Therefore, loss of marriage prospects would also be required to be awarded. The learned Tribunal has rejected the claim of taxi expenses for the reason that the taxi driver has not been produced. It is impossible to produce the numerous taxi drivers. Still further, the Tribunal should have realized the condition of the child who had complete sensory loss in the legs. Therefore, if the parents of the child have taken him in a taxi, probably that was the only option available to them. Accordingly, we award a sum of Rs.2 lakhs as conveyance charges."

The Court held that the compensation came out to be Rs. 49,93,000/- along with interest already awarded by the Tribunal and affirmed by the High Court i.e. 7.5% p.a. from the date of filing of the claim application till realization.

While relying on the precedent General Manager, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, Trivandrum v. Susamma Thomas and Other, the Bench opined that some amount would be disbursed to the father of the Appellant.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeals with costs throughout.

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