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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Accident claim - M.V.Act - how to determine Functional Disability - Driver who lost his leg and hand with fractures and who is not able to driver even a two wheeler and in the absence of contributory negligence - functional disability was fixed at 35% by doctor - should be calculated on the net income per annum x multiplier along with medical reimbursement , extra nourishment and vehicle damage etc., he will not be entitled to any other compensation on account of physical disability or loss of earning capacity, etc. = G. DHANASEKAR … APPELLANT (S) VERSUS M.D., METROPOLITAN TRANSPORT CORPORATION LIMITED … RESPONDENT (S) = 2014 (Feb. Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41219

  Accident claim - M.V.Act - how to determine Functional Disability - Driver who lost his leg and hand with fractures and who is not able to driver even a two wheeler and in the absence of contributory negligence - functional disability was fixed at 35% by doctor -  should be calculated on the net income per annum x multiplier along with medical reimbursement , extra nourishment and vehicle damage etc., he will not be entitled to any other compensation on  account  of  physical  disability  or  loss  of earning capacity,  etc.   = 

Whether an  accident  victim  is  entitled  to  get  compensation  for
      functional disability?
No contributory Negligence =
    “On perusal  of  Ex.R.1.  FIR  and  from  the  evidence  of  the
      Petitioner and RW.1. driver of the bus, it  is  clear  that  both  the
      vehicles came in a rash and negligent manner and with high  speed  and
      dashed against each other. In the above accident, the  driver  of  the
      Tata Sumo was injured. Taking advantage of the situation,  the  driver
      of the bus gave complaint to Police. Hence the driver of the bus  gave
      complaint  accusing  the  driver  of  the  Tata  Sumo  car.  No  other
      independent witnesses were examined.



           Hence this Court comes to the conclusion that the bus came in  a
      rash and negligent manner and dashed against the deceased (sic:  car).
      Hence it is concluded that negligence on the part of the driver of the
      bus is the root cause of the accident. The  evidence  of  RW.1  driver
      shows that he simply throws the blame on the injured.”
                                                         (Emphasis supplied)




  11. It is strange that having arrived at such finding regarding negligence
      on the part of the driver of the bus, the Tribunal  proceeded  further
      in holding that:


           “The manner of the accident shows that both the vehicles came in
      an uncontrollable speed and  dashed  against  each  other.  Hence  the
      impact of the accident was very heavy and both  the  vehicles  damaged
      heavily. Hence this court  comes  to  the  conclusion  that  both  the
      vehicles came in a rash and  negligent  manner  with  high  speed  and
      dashed against each other. Hence it  is  concluded  that  contributory
      negligence is fixed on the driver of both vehicles and  negligence  on
      the part of the drivers of both vehicles is  the  root  cause  of  the
      accident and they are equally responsible for the accident.”
                                                         (Emphasis supplied)

 12.  It needs no elaborate discussion to hold that the findings are  intra
      contradictory. Unfortunately, despite specific ground taken before the
      High Court, this aspect of the matter was not considered properly.
PW1 has stated that a passenger in the bus was thrown out of  the  bus
      through the front windscreen and that the car took a u-turn on account
      of the impact of the accident. Apparently, it was this evidence  which
      lead to the first finding by the Tribunal that the negligence  on  the
      part of the driver of the bus was the root cause of the  accident  and
      it was the bus which dashed against the car.  Having  entered  such  a
      finding, another finding on contributory negligence is  unsustainable.
      Unfortunately, without proper appreciation of the evidence,  the  High
      Court has fixed 30% negligence on the part of the appellant, which  we
      find it difficult to sustain. Therefore,  in  the  light  of  evidence
      available in this case, we restore the first finding of  the  Tribunal
      that the negligence on the part of the bus driver is the root cause of
      the accident.
functional disability
In this case, the victim is not totally disabled to engage in driving.
      At the same time, it has to be seen that he cannot continue his career
      as  earlier. 
 In  such  circumstances,  the  percentage  of   physical
      disability can be safely taken as the extent of functional disability.
      In the assessment of the doctor, it is 35%. 
 Since  the  appellant  is
      compensated for functional disablement, he will not be entitled to any
      other compensation on  account  of  physical  disability  or  loss  of
      earning capacity,  etc.  
However,  he  is  entitled  to  reimbursement
      towards medical expenses,  etc.  
The  Tribunal  has  fixed  income  of
      Rs.10,000/-. There is no serious dispute on  this  aspect.  Therefore,
      applying the principle laid down by this Court in Rajesh’s and  Others
      case (supra), the appellant is entitled to  compensation  as  computed
      below:
|Sl. |HEADS                                       |CALCULATION   |
|No. |                                            |              |
|(i) |Annual Income = Rs.10,000 x 12 =            |Rs.1,20,000/- |
|(ii)|After deducting 1/3rd of the total income   |Rs.80,000/-   |
|    |for personal expenses, the balance will be =|              |
|    |[Rs.1,20,000/- - Rs.40,000/-] =             |              |
|(iii|Add 30% towards increase in future income,  |Rs.1,04,000/- |
|)   |as per Sarla Verma and Rajesh and Others    |              |
|    |cases (supra) =                             |              |
|(iv)|Compensation after multiplier of 13 is      |Rs.13,52,000/-|
|    |applied = [Rs.1,04,000/- x 13] =            |              |
|(v) |Applying the 35% functional disability, the |Rs.4,73,200/- |
|    |appellant will be entitled to the           |              |
|    |compensation of 35% of Rs.13,52,000/- =     |              |
|(vi)|Reimbursement towards medical expenses =    |Rs.60,000/-   |
|(vii|Amount towards extra nourishment, etc.      |Rs.10,000/-   |
|)   |                                            |              |
|(vii|Damages to the vehicle (as awarded by the   |Rs.10,000/-   |
|i)  |High Court) =                               |              |
|(ix)|Amount towards actual loss of earning during|Rs.40,000/-   |
|    |the period of hospitalization and thereafter|              |
|    |during the period of rest =                 |              |
|(x) |Amount towards pain and sufferings =        |Rs.10,000/-   |
|(xi)|Amount towards expenses on attendant =      |Rs.10,000/-   |
|TOTAL COMPENSATION AWARDED                       |Rs.6,13,200/- |
|[(v)+(vi)+(vii)+(viii)+(ix)+(x)+(xi)]            |              |


  15. The amount of total compensation awarded shall carry interest @ 7% per
      annum from the date of filing the petition before the  Motor  Accident
      Claims Tribunal till realization.


  16. The appeals are allowed as above. There  is  no  order  as  to  costs.

2014 (Feb. Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41219
SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, KURIAN JOSEPH

                                                         REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CIVIL  APPELLATE  JURISDICTION

                      CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 2008-09/2014
            [Arising out of S.L.P.(Civil) Nos. 35565-35566/2011]


G. DHANASEKAR                           … APPELLANT (S)

                                   VERSUS

M.D., METROPOLITAN TRANSPORT
CORPORATION LIMITED                     … RESPONDENT (S)



                               J U D G M E N T

KURIAN, J.:

      Leave granted.


   2. Whether an  accident  victim  is  entitled  to  get  compensation  for
      functional disability? If so, what is the method  for  computation  of
      compensation? These are the two issues arising for  considerations  in
      this case.

   3. Computation of just and reasonable compensation is the bounden duty of
      the Motor Accident  Claims  Tribunal.  In  view  of  the  plethora  of
      judgments rendered by this Court regarding the approach to be made  in
      the award of compensation, we do not find it necessary to  start  with
      the first principles.
In  Rajesh  and  Others  v.  Rajbir  Singh  and
      Others[1], Master Mallikarjun  v.  Divisional  Manager,  The  National
      Insurance Company Limited[2] and in Rekha Jain v.  National  Insurance
      Company Limited and Others[3], this  Court  recently  has  extensively
      dealt with the principles governing the fixation of  compensation  and
      the approach to be made by the courts in that regard.

   4. In Rekha Jain’s  case  (supra),  this  Court  following  the  case  of
      National Insurance Company Limited v. Mubasir  Ahmed  and  Another[4],
      developed a very important principle on  functional  disability  while
      fixing the compensation.
Rekha Jain, a cine artist suffered an  injury
      in a motor accident at the age of 24 years on  account  of  which  she
      suffered 30% permanent partial disability which included disfigurement
      of her face, change in the physical appearance, etc. It was found that
      on account of  such  development,  she  could  no  more  continue  her
      avocation as an actress and, hence, it was held that she had  suffered
      100% functional disability. 
Hence,  this  Court  awarded  compensation
      following the principles laid down in Sarla Verma (Smt.) and Others v.
      Delhi Transport Corporation and Another[5].

   5. As far as compensation for functional disability is concerned, it  has
      to be borne in mind that the principle cannot be uniformly applied. It
      would depend on the impact  caused  by  the  injury  on  the  victim’s
      profession/career.
To what extent the career of the  victim  has  been
      affected, thereby his regular income  is  reduced  or  dried  up  will
      depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. There may be  even
      situations  where  the  physical  disability  does  not  involve   any
      functional disability at all.
   6. Now, we shall refer to the factual matrix.
The  appellant,  driver  by
      profession and operating a tourist taxi  himself,  met  with  a  motor
      accident on 05.09.2008.  While  driving  the  Tata  Sumo  car,  a  bus
      operated by the respondent,  came  from  the  opposite  direction  and
      dashed against the car.
The appellant suffered fracture on  right  leg
      and right arm.
According to the doctor, on  account  of  the  injuries
      suffered by the appellant and the operations undergone by him to fix a
      thick plate in the tibia bone with five screws, the appellant will not
      be in a position to bend his right knee beyond 90  degrees.  There  is
      shortening of the leg by one centimeter on account of nerve injury. He
      would  be  limping  while  walking.  He  cannot  lift  weight  over  3
      kilograms. His right hand movement is restricted  to  25  degrees.  He
      will not be able to drive two wheelers and he can drive four  wheelers
      with difficulty. To quote PW1(appellant):


           “After the incident, I cannot bend my right knee beyond 90  deg.
           I cannot use my right hand for lifting any weighty objects.  The
           movements in my right hand  elbow  and  wrist  has  almost  been
           restricted. I am not in a position  to  drive  the  vehicles  as
           before. I cannot use Indian toilet or squat or carry  weight.  I
           am walking with limping. Walking and standing for some time is a
           painful one. Because of the dislocation of  bone  in  the  lower
           jaw, I am not able to open my mouth fully and speak  coherently.
           I find it very difficult to eat hard  objects.  I  am  suffering
           from intermittent head ache and  giddiness.  I  have  completely
           lost  my  earning  capacity.  I  am  having  severe   pain   and
           suffering.”



   7. The Tribunal  awarded  a  total  compensation  of  Rs.4,50,000/-.  The
      Tribunal found that the appellant has contributed to the accident and,
      hence, the liability of the respondent was fixed  at  50%.  In  appeal
      before the High Court, it was held that the contributory negligence on
      the part of the appellant is  only  30%.  The  compensation  was  also
      refixed to an amount of Rs.3,20,000/-. Thus, the  appellant  was  held
      entitled to Rs.2,24,000/- with interest @ 7.5% per annum.



   8. Thus, aggrieved, the claimant has filed these  appeals.  There  is  no
      appeal by the respondent.



   9. It is mainly contended by the learned counsel for the  appellant  that
      the Tribunal and the High Court erred in not taking into consideration
      the factor of his functional disability. Since, it is in evidence that
      the appellant cannot continue his avocation of driver as  earlier,  he
      should be reasonably compensated in that regard, it is submitted.  Yet
      another  strong  submission  is  with  regard  to   the   finding   on
      contributory negligence. It is contended that only the driver  of  the
      offending vehicle is negligent, he is wholly negligent and that  there
      is no negligence on the part of the appellant.



  10. We shall first deal with the aspect of contributory negligence.  There
      is no dispute that the vehicles were coming in opposite direction.  It
      has also come in evidence that the driver  of  the  bus  has  filed  a
      complaint before the police and the  police  has  registered  an  FIR.
      Except the driver of both the vehicles and the doctor who treated  the
      appellant, there is  no  other  oral  evidence.  The  FIR,  disability
      certificate, medical bills, driving licence, RC book and  permit  were
      also marked. The Tribunal, having referred  to  the  entire  evidence,
      held as follows:



           “On perusal  of  Ex.R.1.  FIR  and  from  the  evidence  of  the
      Petitioner and RW.1. driver of the bus, it  is  clear  that  both  the
      vehicles came in a rash and negligent manner and with high  speed  and
      dashed against each other. In the above accident, the  driver  of  the
      Tata Sumo was injured. Taking advantage of the situation,  the  driver
      of the bus gave complaint to Police. Hence the driver of the bus  gave
      complaint  accusing  the  driver  of  the  Tata  Sumo  car.  No  other
      independent witnesses were examined.



           Hence this Court comes to the conclusion that the bus came in  a
      rash and negligent manner and dashed against the deceased (sic:  car).
      Hence it is concluded that negligence on the part of the driver of the
      bus is the root cause of the accident. The  evidence  of  RW.1  driver
      shows that he simply throws the blame on the injured.”
                                                         (Emphasis supplied)




  11. It is strange that having arrived at such finding regarding negligence
      on the part of the driver of the bus, the Tribunal  proceeded  further
      in holding that:


           “The manner of the accident shows that both the vehicles came in
      an uncontrollable speed and  dashed  against  each  other.  Hence  the
      impact of the accident was very heavy and both  the  vehicles  damaged
      heavily. Hence this court  comes  to  the  conclusion  that  both  the
      vehicles came in a rash and  negligent  manner  with  high  speed  and
      dashed against each other. Hence it  is  concluded  that  contributory
      negligence is fixed on the driver of both vehicles and  negligence  on
      the part of the drivers of both vehicles is  the  root  cause  of  the
      accident and they are equally responsible for the accident.”
                                                         (Emphasis supplied)





  12.  It needs no elaborate discussion to hold that the findings are  intra
      contradictory. Unfortunately, despite specific ground taken before the
      High Court, this aspect of the matter was not considered properly.  It
      was, however, held that:




      “… Considering the fact that no other eye witness  has  been  examined
      and the respective drivers  alone  have  been  examined,  we  have  to
      consider their evidence in the light of surrounding circumstances.  If
      so considered, then it cannot be precisely decided that  one  of  them
      was solely responsible for the  accident.  Considering  the  aforesaid
      facts, we fix 30% negligence on the  part  of  the  claimant  and  70%
      negligence on the part of the driver of the bus. …”






  13. PW1 has stated that a passenger in the bus was thrown out of  the  bus
      through the front windscreen and that the car took a u-turn on account
      of the impact of the accident. Apparently, it was this evidence  which
      lead to the first finding by the Tribunal that the negligence  on  the
      part of the driver of the bus was the root cause of the  accident  and
      it was the bus which dashed against the car.  Having  entered  such  a
      finding, another finding on contributory negligence is  unsustainable.
      Unfortunately, without proper appreciation of the evidence,  the  High
      Court has fixed 30% negligence on the part of the appellant, which  we
      find it difficult to sustain. Therefore,  in  the  light  of  evidence
      available in this case, we restore the first finding of  the  Tribunal
      that the negligence on the part of the bus driver is the root cause of
      the accident.



  14. As noted above, appellant is a driver operating  a  tourist  taxi.  On
      account of the physical disability referred  to  above,  it  needs  no
      elaborate discussion to hold that he would not be  in  a  position  to
      continue his avocation at the same rate, or  in  the  same  manner  as
      before. He was aged 46 years at the time of  accident.  Therefore,  we
      are of the view that it is a case where the appellant should be  given
      just and reasonable compensation for his functional disability as  his
      income has been affected. The court has to make a fair  assessment  on
      the impact of disability on the professional functions of the  victim.
      In this case, the victim is not totally disabled to engage in driving.
      At the same time, it has to be seen that he cannot continue his career
      as  earlier.  In  such  circumstances,  the  percentage  of   physical
      disability can be safely taken as the extent of functional disability.
      In the assessment of the doctor, it is 35%.  Since  the  appellant  is
      compensated for functional disablement, he will not be entitled to any
      other compensation on  account  of  physical  disability  or  loss  of
      earning capacity,  etc.  However,  he  is  entitled  to  reimbursement
      towards medical expenses,  etc.  The  Tribunal  has  fixed  income  of
      Rs.10,000/-. There is no serious dispute on  this  aspect.  Therefore,
      applying the principle laid down by this Court in Rajesh’s and  Others
      case (supra), the appellant is entitled to  compensation  as  computed
      below:
|Sl. |HEADS                                       |CALCULATION   |
|No. |                                            |              |
|(i) |Annual Income = Rs.10,000 x 12 =            |Rs.1,20,000/- |
|(ii)|After deducting 1/3rd of the total income   |Rs.80,000/-   |
|    |for personal expenses, the balance will be =|              |
|    |[Rs.1,20,000/- - Rs.40,000/-] =             |              |
|(iii|Add 30% towards increase in future income,  |Rs.1,04,000/- |
|)   |as per Sarla Verma and Rajesh and Others    |              |
|    |cases (supra) =                             |              |
|(iv)|Compensation after multiplier of 13 is      |Rs.13,52,000/-|
|    |applied = [Rs.1,04,000/- x 13] =            |              |
|(v) |Applying the 35% functional disability, the |Rs.4,73,200/- |
|    |appellant will be entitled to the           |              |
|    |compensation of 35% of Rs.13,52,000/- =     |              |
|(vi)|Reimbursement towards medical expenses =    |Rs.60,000/-   |
|(vii|Amount towards extra nourishment, etc.      |Rs.10,000/-   |
|)   |                                            |              |
|(vii|Damages to the vehicle (as awarded by the   |Rs.10,000/-   |
|i)  |High Court) =                               |              |
|(ix)|Amount towards actual loss of earning during|Rs.40,000/-   |
|    |the period of hospitalization and thereafter|              |
|    |during the period of rest =                 |              |
|(x) |Amount towards pain and sufferings =        |Rs.10,000/-   |
|(xi)|Amount towards expenses on attendant =      |Rs.10,000/-   |
|TOTAL COMPENSATION AWARDED                       |Rs.6,13,200/- |
|[(v)+(vi)+(vii)+(viii)+(ix)+(x)+(xi)]            |              |


  15. The amount of total compensation awarded shall carry interest @ 7% per
      annum from the date of filing the petition before the  Motor  Accident
      Claims Tribunal till realization.


  16. The appeals are allowed as above. There  is  no  order  as  to  costs.



                                         ………..…………………….…..…………J.
                         (SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA)

                                        …………………..…………………………J.
                                  (KURIAN JOSEPH)
New Delhi;
February 12, 2014.
-----------------------
[1]    (2013) 9 SCC 54
[2]    2013 (10) SCALE 668
[3]    (2013) 8 SCC 389
[4]    (2007) 2 SCC 349
[5]    (2009) 6 SCC 121

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