Doctor’s rash or negligent act resulting in death amounts to an accident apex consumer panel has held while making the victim entitled to the accidental death benefits from his or her insurer.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (NCDRC) gave the ruling while ordering the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India to pay the accidental death benefits to the husband of the insured, who had died while being operated upon.
“The life assured (the insured) died during an operation by the treating doctors. Thus, the injury to the life assured was an accident caused by outward, violent and visible means and therefore, the Life Insurance Corporation of India cannot be absolved from its liability to pay the accidental benefits to the complainant,” the NCDRC said.
The LIC had denied the accidental benefits to Haryana resident Narender Singh, the husband of the insured, saying his wife’s death during the surgery was not an accident.
It had also contended that the doctors were not negligent or rash as they had performed the surgery fairly without any ill-intention or mens rea.
The bench presided by Justice J M Malik rejected the contentions as “devoid of force” and pointed out that “a criminal case under section 304-A (of Indian Penal Code) is pending against the doctors. A criminal case crops up by a negligent and rash act. Mens rea is not required.” It also observed “the negligence and rashness” as well as deficiency of service of the doctors was evident from the fact that no anaesthetist was present during the surgery.
“Without calling the anaesthetist, the doctors should not have treated the patient at all. This itself speaks deficiency in service on the part of the doctors as well as negligence and rashness,” the NCDRC said