08 Jan 2121

The monetary loss sustained and likely to be endured by each dependent as a result of the breadwinner's death is the measure of damage in a fatal accident lawsuit - Karnataka High Court

Case : Smt. Kamalavva and Ors. v. Nagesh and Anr. MFA No. 101613/2017 (MV)

Court : Karnataka High Court

Bench : Justice M. I. Arun

Decided on : 08 Jan 2121

The Relevant Statutes

Section 173(1), 163A, 166 of the Motor Vehicle At, 1988

Section 110-B of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1939

Brief Facts & Procedural History

1. The deceased Buddappa, who was the husband of petitioner No. 1 and the father of petitioners Nos. 2 to 4, was riding his motorcycle with registration No. KA-22/ED-9197 on the Belgaum-Khanapur NH.14 road when he came near the Government Hospital, Ganebail, and a Tata Truck with registration No. KA-22/A-735, which was moving in front of the said motorcycle without any reason and in a rash and negligent manner, As a result, the dead collided with the vehicle, suffering severe head injuries and passing away on the spot. As a result, the petitioners filed MVC No.346/2012 with the Tribunal, demanding Rs.36,45,000/- in compensation with interest.

2. The owner of the truck is respondent no. 1, and the insurer with whom the offending truck was covered is respondent no. 2. Despite being issued with the notice, respondent no. 1 failed to appear and was put ex parte. Respondent no. 2 was represented by counsel and submitted a written statement. It disputed responsibility and asked for the claim petition to be dismissed.

3. The Tribunal framed the issues and recorded the evidence based on the pleadings. Petitioner No. 1 was examined as P.W.1 and eight papers were designated as Exs.P-1 to P-8. Respondent no. 2 had its Deputy Manager examined as R.W.1 and the insurance policy was designated as Ex.R.1. The Tribunal concluded that the collision occurred as a result of the offending truck's reckless and irresponsible driving, based on the pleadings and evidence presented. The claimants were found to be entitled to compensation in the amount of Rs.4,65,900/-, with interest at the rate of 6% per annum. from the filing of the petition until the completion of the project. In addition, respondent no. 2 is obligated to pay the petitioners because the offending truck was properly insured.

4. The petitioners have filed an appeal seeking an increase in compensation because they are dissatisfied with the verdict and award.

The Issue(s) of the Case

Whether judgment and award dated 18.07.2013 passed by the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal-X, Hunagund (for short “the Tribunal”) in MVC No.346/2012 valid?

The Observations of the Court

1. Honourable High Court of Karnataka, Dharwad Bench observed that the measure of damage in a fatal accident case is the monetary loss experienced and likely to be suffered by each dependant as a result of the breadwinner's death. To ensure consistency and avoid uncertainty, the Courts consider I the deceased's income at the time of his death; (ii) the amount that he would roughly spend on himself; (iii) the deceased's age at the time of his death; (iv) his prospects; and (v) the deceased's prospects. The foregoing features have changed throughout time as a result of numerous judgements made about the multiplier. The Hon'ble Apex Court has been working to create certainty in the subject of calculating the loss sustained by the claimant as a result of his or her reliance, as evidenced by the different decisions.

2. Honourable High Court of Karnataka, Dharwad Bench also observed that in this case, the deceased was employed as a Forest Guard and was ready to retire after two years. He was 58 years old at the time of the tragedy. He was earning Rs.8,806/- per month at the time of the disaster. Given the nature of his profession, he had a good chance of remaining gainfully employed after retirement without suffering a significant loss in income, assuming he lived long enough. In India, the average life expectancy has risen over time. The Hon'ble Supreme Court has envisaged the multiplier to be used till the age of 70 years in Sarla Verma (Smt) and others vs. Delhi Transport Corporation and others, reported in (2009) 6 SCC 121, implying that a person can always be gainfully employed until the age of 70 years.

3. Honourable High Court of Karnataka, Dharwad Bench also observed that if the deceased had been living, he might have been gainfully employed even after retirement, and that, given the nature of the employment, he would have received a similar pay.

4. Honourable High Court of Karnataka, Dharwad Bench also observed that at the time of the tragedy, the deceased was receiving Rs.8,806/- per month in wages. As a result, his annual earnings would be Rs.1,05,672/-. He was responsible for four people: his wife, two grown boys, and a daughter. Only his wife and daughter are considered dependents, while his two adult sons are not. As a result, petitioners Nos. 1 and 2 are deemed dependents. As a result, a third of his costs will be deducted. At the time of the accident, he was around 58 years old. As a result, the multiplier "9" must be used. According to the legislation established by the Honourable Supreme Court in National Insurance Company Limited v. Pranay Sethi and others 2017 ACJ 2700, 10% must be contributed to future possibilities. As a result, the petitioners would be entitled to Rs.6,97,436 in compensation for loss of dependence (Rs.8,806/- x 12 – 1/3 x 9 + 10%).

5. Referring to the case of Magma General Insurance Company Limited vs. Nanu Ram 2018 SCC 1546, Each of the petitioners is entitled to Rs.40,000 in damages for loss of consortium. As a result of the loss of consortium, the petitioners are entitled to Rs.1,60,000/-. They would be entitled to a payment of Rs.30,000/- to cover burial expenses and estate loss. In all, the petitioners are entitled to Rs.8,87,436/- in compensation.

The Decision Held by the Court

1. Honourable High Court of Karnataka, Dharwad Bench held that the petitioners are entitled to an increased compensation of Rs.4,21,536/-, with interest at the rate of 6% per annum. omitting the time, it took to file the claim petition and the time it took to file the appeal Petitioners Nos. 1 and 2 will each get 50% of the increased compensation.

2. The Tribunal's verdict and award have been amended, and the appeal has been partially granted.

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