No Amount Can Compensate Loss Of Amenities Of Person In Coma And Bedridden For Life - SC Enhances Motor Accident Claim
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna has enhanced the amount of compensation under the head loss of amenities and happiness to Rs.10,00,000 from that of Rs.1,00,000 as awarded by the Karnataka High Court, as it was a reasonable amount under the head loss of amenities and happiness since no amount could compensate the loss of amenities and happiness more particularly a person who was in coma since a number of years and was bedridden for the entire life.
In this case, a vehicular accident occurred and the Claimant sustained grievous brain injuries. He underwent brain surgery. Though he was discharged from the hospital, he remained in a coma even till the claim petition was filed. At the relevant time, the Claimant was working as a Process Supervisor in Deutsche Bank and earning Rs.4,59,425 per annum. At the time of the accident, he was aged 29 years and the Claimant through his next friend i.e. his mother filed a claim petition before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. The Tribunal awarded Rs.94,37,300 and interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of petition till realization.
The Karnataka High Court had partly allowed the appeal preferred by the Claimant and had enhanced the amount of compensation from 94,37,300 to Rs.1,24,94,333. The High Court had, however, reduced the interest from 9% per annum as awarded by the Tribunal to the interest at the rate of 6% per annum. This was challenged before the Supreme Court.
Counsel, Karunakar Mahalik appeared on behalf of the Claimant while the Counsel Ms. Prerna Mehta represented the Insurance Company before the Apex Court.
It was contended by the Claimant that due to the vehicular accident the Claimant had suffered 100% disability and was completely bedridden. It was submitted that with this disability he would have to live a miserable life till his death. It was argued that he would not be in a position to enjoy life and therefore the High Court had committed a grave error in awarding Rs.1,00,000 only towards loss of amenities and happiness. It was submitted that the High Court had committed a grave error in reducing the amount of interest from 9% per annum to 6% per annum.
On the other hand, the Respondent argued that in the case of Raj Kumar v. Ajay Kumar, it was held by this Court, when compensation was awarded by treating the loss of future earning capacity as 100% the need to award compensation separately under the head of loss of amenities or loss of expectation of life had disappeared and as a result, only a token or nominal amount had to be awarded under the head of loss of amenities or loss of expectation of life, as otherwise there was a duplication in the award of compensation.
The Bench observed that – "considering the prolonged hospitalization and medical treatment and that the Claimant underwent multiple surgeries, we are of the opinion that the High Court has erred in awarding Rs.2,00,000¬ only under the head pain and suffering. The pain, suffering and trauma suffered by the Claimant cannot be compensated in terms of the money. However, still it will be a solace to award suitable compensation under different heads including the pain, shock and suffering, loss of amenities and happiness of life."
The Supreme Court held that in the facts and circumstances of the case due to the prolonged hospitalization and the multiple brain injuries/injuries sustained by the Claimant and that he was still in a coma and was bedridden, the Court believed that the amount of compensation under the head of pain, shock and suffering was enhanced to Rs.10,00,000 (Rupees Ten Lakhs), it could be said to be a reasonable amount under the head pain, shock, and suffering.
The Court further opined that in the amount of Rs.1,00,000 awarded by the High Court under the head loss of amenities and happiness could also be said to be on the lower side. The Court held that no amount could compensate for the loss of amenities and happiness more particularly a person who was in coma since number of years and was bedridden for their entire life.
Thus, the Court deemed it fit that if the amount of compensation under the head loss of amenities and happiness was enhanced to Rs.10,00,000 from that of Rs.1,00,000 as awarded by the High Court, it could be said to be a reasonable amount under the head loss of amenities and happiness.
Thus, the present appeal was allowed in part and the impugned judgment and order passed by the Karnataka High Court was modified to the extent and it was held that the original Claimant should be entitled to a total sum of Rs.1,41,94,333 with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of filing the claim petition till realization. It was directed that the enhanced amount of compensation should be deposited by the Respondent i.e. Insurance Company before the learned Tribunal within a period of four weeks from today, failing which, it should carry interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum. The Tribunal was hereby directed to ensure that the amount of compensation was invested in long-term interest bearing deposits in different Nationalized Banks or Post Office so that the amount of compensation could be used for the Claimant and the same was not flittered away.