'Accident relief should include loss of earnings'

Give adequate compensation to victims: Apex court

The Supreme Court has said 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.

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 now 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.

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