The Supreme Court has said that compensation to accident victims should be adequate and include not only damages for injuries but also for loss of earnings and inability to enjoy a normal life.
“It is suffice to say that in determining the quantum of compensation payable to the victims of accident, who are disabled either permanently or temporarily, efforts should always be made to award adequate compensation not only for the physical injury and treatment, but also for the loss of earning and inability to lead a normal life and enjoy amenities, which would have been enjoyed but for the disability caused due to the accident,” the court said in its recent judgment.
The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya said: “The amount awarded under the head of loss of earning capacity are distinct and do not overlap with the amount awarded for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life or the amount awarded for medical expenses.”
The court said this while awarding an accident victim, Kavita, who had suffered near permanent disability a compensation of Rs.34,38,747 and directed the same to be paid by respondent Deepak and others within three months.
However, the court said that the respondent was free to deduct the amount of compensation that had already been paid to Kavita.
The judgment authored by Justice Singhvi indicates the headings that could be covered while awarding adequate compensation to accident victims.
However, it would vary from victim to victim given the nature of injury and the percentage of disability caused by the accident.
The heads that could be taken into account for calculating adequate compensation to an accident victim include expenses towards medical treatment including those incurred during the pendency of the case, loss of future earnings on account of permanent disability, physical and mental pains, loss of amenities and loss of expectation of life.
Kavita suffered grievous injuries after the car she was travelling in was hit by a truck in Madhya Pradesh May 2, 2004. Kavita is currently in a vegetative state.
Kavita, who had moved the Tribunal under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, through her husband Deepak Singhal, had sought a compensation of Rs.85 lakh.
While seeking the compensation claim, she had alleged that the accident was caused due to rash and negligent driving and as a consequence, she suffered injuries to her head, mouth, right ear and other parts of the body and thus became disabled from doing routine work.
However, the tribunal awarded her compensation of Rs.four lakh which covered Rs.2,50,000 under the head of treatment expanses, Rs.1,25,000 under the head of permanent disability and Rs.25,000 for her pain and suffering.
However, the high court by its May 18, 2010, order had enhanced the compensation to Rs.16,76,480 and said that after deducting Rs.4 lakh awarded by the tribunal, the actual enhanced compensation came to Rs.12,76,480.
The apex court, while awarding the compensation of Rs.34,38,747, partially modified the high court order by enhancing the compensation.
The compensation awarded by the apex court was distributed under the heads of medical treatment and medical expenses during the pendency of the appeal, expanses of attendant for next 25 years at Rs.2,000 per month, future medical expenses (physiotherapy) for next 25 years at Rs.3,000 per month.
Besides this, the court awarded compensation under the head of loss of earning during the period of treatment, loss of future earnings on account of permanent disability, physical and mental pains, loss of amenities and loss of expectation of life.