In today’s world we can see existence of different types of claims viz., matrimonial claims, personal claims, health claims, equity claims, insurance claims etc. Of all these claims we have one accidental claims which has increased in present time with the development of civilization.
Before going further we should first understand the meaning of Accident. Accident means any unintentional act, an act which is just by chance and without any premeditation.
ASSESSMENT OF COMPENSATION
Life cannot be valued and similarly no human being can be put into any monetary value of his limb or of any other human being. The courts can only grant compensation for the pecuniary and monetary loss caused and some other expenses, but no court can even attempt to grant compensation for loss of life or limb. Mainly pecuniary loss has to be assessed. Nominal damages for funeral expenses are awarded and on loss of consortium. Long expectation of life is connected with earning capacity. In its very nature whenever a tribunal or a court is required to fix the amount of compensation in cases of accidents it involves some guess work, some hypothetical consideration, some amount of sympathy linked with the nature of the disability caused.
COMPENSATION IN DEATH CASES
The work of the tribunal has been made somewhat easy by the recent judgment of the apex court in Sarla Verma vs. Delhi Transport Corporation, wherein the following factors have to be considered by the Tribunal while awarding compensation.
The income of the deceased per annum should be ascertained. Out of the said income a deduction is to be made with regard to the amount which the deceased would have spent on him by way of personal and living expenses. The balance which is to be considered to be the contribution to the dependent family constitutes the multiplicant.
Having regard to the age of deceased and active career, the multiplication method should be selected.
COMPENSATION IN INJURY CASES
Injuries cause deprivation to the body which results in losses, entitling the claimant to claim damages. The damages may vary according to the gravity and nature of disability or of injuries suffered. The damages can be pecuniary as well as non pecuniary. But all this has to be converted into rupees and paisa. The court has to make a judicious attempt to award the damages, so as to compensate the claimant for the loss suffered by him. The compensation should not be assessed in so liberal fashion as to make it a bounty for the claimant. There must be an endeavour to secure some uniformity and consistency. It is desirable that so far as possible comparable injuries should be compensated by comparable awards.
HOW TO FILE CLAIM APPLICATION
Claim application can be filed under Section 163A for claim to be determined on structural formula basis provided in Schedule-II. Schedule-II has been adjudged as suffering from severe mistakes and the Supreme Court has held that total reliance cannot be placed on this schedule. The injured or the legal representatives of deceased can file claim application in a prescribed format making driver, owner and insurer as party. Driver is not a necessary party in some states. No limitation has been prescribed for filing of the claim application. Initially when the law has come into force the limitation was 6 months which was later increased to one year and ultimately in the garb of welfare legislation the provision of limitation has been deleted.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS IN MOTOR VEHICLES ACT
Soon, traffic rule violators will have to cough up hefty penalties – almost 10 times more than what they pay now – for offences such as over speeding and drunk driving. The Centre has proposed Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill, the legislation that regulates road transport in the country. The Motor Vehicles Act was amended last in the year 2001. The bill, drafted by the Road Transport Ministry, has made penalties for traffic offences much more stringent. Rash driving for example is now likely to attract a civil liability of upto Rs 5,000 in addition to punishment under the Indian Penal Code. Drunk driving will attract a penalty of Rs 5,000 and imprisonment.
For the first time, a concept of graded fines for drunk driving is likely to be introduced. This means that penalty will be directly proportional to the alcohol content found above the stipulated limit of upto 30 mg per 100 ml of blood in the driver’s body.
- Jumping red light for the first time can cost the offender Rs.500. The fine will be Rs.1000 for the second time and if repeated again it will go upto Rs.1500.
- Offences like drink driving can put the offender behind bars for at least two years with Rs.5000 as fine.
- The penalty for crossing speed limit will range between Rs.1000-Rs.1500.
The law of accident claims is fast growing and the amendments to suit the requirement of the object are necessitated but at the same time interest of those should be watched who are disbursing the compensation i.e. Insurance Companies. Without affording them right to contest, imposing liability to make payment should not be approved by law. Presently because of increasing scale of compensations almost 10 to 15% or even more cases presented to the Claim Tribunals are fake or the other accidents have been converted into road accidents with connivance of the police authorities. It is necessary that while increasing the burden of the Insurance Companies they must get a right to contest to mitigate fake cases.