There has been a steep escalation in the number of automobile accidents in the past few years and the figure is still increasing. According to a study made by the National Transportation Planning and Research Center, Delhi and Trivandrum, a road accident takes place every four minutes in which a person is killed or injured. In a year about twenty five thousand persons are killed and about one lac persons are injured. The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 deals with the various issues relating to accidents and claims.
WHO CAN FILE AN APPLICATION FOR COMPENSATION
An application for compensation involving the death of, or bodily injury to, persons arising out of the use of motor vehicles, can be made.
- by the person who has sustained the injury; or
- by the owner of the property; or
- where death has resulted from the accident, by all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased; or
- by any agent duly authorized by the person injured or all or any of the legal representatives of the deceased, as the case may be.
WHERE TO FILE AN APPLICATION
Every application shall be made, at the option of the claimant,
- To the Claims Tribunal having jurisdiction over the area in which the accident occurred or
- To the Claims Tribunal within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the claimant resides or carries on business or
- Within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the defendant resides.
BAR ON JURISDITION OF CIVIL COURTS
Where any Claims Tribunal has been constituted for any area, no Civil Court shall have jurisdiction to entertain any question relating to any claim for compensation which may be adjudicated upon by the Claims Tribunal for that area, and no injunction in respect of any action taken or to be taken by or before the Claims Tribunal in respect of the claim for compensation shall be granted by the Civil Court.
FIXED COMPENSATION - ON THE PRINCIPLE OF NO FAULT- SECTION 140
- Where death or permanent disablement of any person has resulted from an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle or motor vehicles, the owner of the vehicle shall, or, as the case may be, the owners of the vehicles shall, jointly and severally, be liable to pay compensation in respect of such death or disablement.
- The amount of compensation which shall be payable in respect of the death of any person shall be fixed sum of Rs. 50,000/- and in respect of permanent disablement shall be a fixed sum of Rs. 25,000/-.
- Claimant shall not be required to plead and establish that the death or permanent disablement in respect of which the claim has been made was due to any wrongful act, neglect or default of the owner or owners.
- The claim shall not be defeated by reason of any wrongful act, neglect or default of the person in respect of whose death or permanent disablement the claim has been made nor shall the quantum of compensation in respect of such death or permanent disablement be reduced on the basis of the share of such person in the responsibility for such death or permanent disablement.
Once this option of compensation is exercised then the claimant cannot opt for compensation under section 163 A based on structured formula.
ALTERNATE METHOD OF COMPENSATION
PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION ON STRUCTURED FORMULA BASIS- 163 A
The owner of the motor vehicle of the authorized insurer shall be liable to pay in the case of death or permanent disablement due to accident arising out of the use of motor vehicle, compensation, as indicated in the Second Schedule, to the legal heirs or the victim as the case may be.
In a claim for compensation, the claimant shall not be required to plead or establish that the death or permanent disablement in respect to which the claim has been made was due to any wrongful act or neglect or default of the owner of the vehicle concerned or of any other person.
However where the person is entitled to claim compensation under section 140 and section 163A, he shall file the claim under either of the said section and not under both.
COMPENSATION IN CASE OF HIT AND RUN MOTOR ACCIDENTS WHERE IDENTITY OF THE VEHICLES IS NOT TRACEABLE-SECTION 161
Where the identity of the vehicles is not traceable such cases are called hit and run cases. As the identity of the driver or owner is not traceable, fixed compensation is provided to the victims from the Solatium Fund created by the Government. It must therefore be shown that identity of the motor vehicle which caused the accident could not be traced or ascertained inspite of reasonable efforts, meaning thereby that the accident must be shown to have occurred on account of the victim being hit by some unidentified vehicle which hit him and ran away.
Under Section 161 the amount of compensation payable in respect of the death of any person resulting from a hit and run motor accident is a fixed sum of Rs. 25,000 and in respect of grevious hurt it is a fixed sum of Rs. 12,500.
An application for compensation is made under section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act and shall be accompanied by a court fee of Rs. 10 in the form of court-fee stamps.PARTICULARS TO BE SUBMITTED IN THE APPLICATION
- Name and father's name of the person injured/dead (husband's name in the case of married woman and widow).
- Full address of the person injured/dead.
- Age of the person injured/dead.
- Occupation of the person injure/dead.
- Name address of the employer of the insured/dead, if any.
- Monthly income of the person injured/dead.
- Whether the person in respect of whom compensation is claimed pay income tax (to be supported by documentary evidence)
- Place, date and time of accident.
- Name and address of Police station in whose jurisdiction the accident took place or was registered.
No application for compensation shall be entertained unless it is made within six months of the occurrence of the accident.
An appeal against the order of the Claims Tribunal lies to the High Court and may be filed within ninety days from the date of the award.
However no appeal by a person who is required to pay amount in terms of an shall be entertained by the High Court unless he has deposited with the Court 25,000 rupees or fifty percent of the amount awarded, whichever is less
No appeal shall lie against an award if the amount in dispute in the appeal is less than 10,000 rupees.