How to get compensation under motor vehicles act in India
With so many vehicles plying on the road, we cannot always be careful. There are definitely going to be situations where because of negligence of one driver, the neighbour gets hurt. Neighbour in lawful terms is any person who will directly or indirectly get hurt by the negligent act of another person. Motor vehicles accidents are getting really common in today’s world which is probably why many legal aspirants are choosing to be personal injury attorney.
In India, the matters relating to motor accidents are governed by Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The claim for the compensation, in cases of injury or death is to done either by the injured person himself or in cases of death, by the legal heirs of the deceased. In cases where the injured or legal heir are not in position to file for compensation, then any agent appointed by them for this purpose can also claim compensation on their behalf.
The process for filing for compensation begins with filing an application under section 166 of the act. You will have to hire a good personal injury attorney for helping you go through the legal process. The application can be filed in the claims tribunal of the area in which the accident had happened, or claims tribunal with jurisdiction of the area where the claimant or the defendant resides. There is no limitation period within which the application has to be made as of now, but it is always advised to file for claim within reasonable time to get favourable judgement. The application is usually accompanied by a court feed of Rs 10. There are a number of details which is to be given while filing the application, such as name, address, age, occupation, monthly income of the injured/dead, place and time of accident, details of police station in whose jurisdiction the accident took place etc.
Determining the compensation is the most complex decision to be made. The reason being that how can a tribunal decide the monetary value of life of the deceased or the disability of the injured. In cases where death is the direct cause of the accident, compensation is determined by either fixed compensation (no fault principle) or by structured formula basis. In the former method (under section 140), the tribunal awards Rs 50,000 in cases of death and Rs 25,000 in cases of permanent disability. In the method of structured formula (under section 163A), a multiplier method is used to calculate the compensation amount where all the necessary details about the injured or deceased like age, present income, no. of dependants, active career etc are taken into account and then the tribunal arrives at an amount. But one thing should be kept in mind that the claimant is free to choose any one of the method but cannot choose both the methods at the same time.
In cases relating to hit and run cases (under section 161) where the owner of the vehicle is not known a fixed compensation decided by the tribunal is given from the government’s fund called Solatium Fund. The compensation given by this fund to the injured is Rs 12,500 and in case of death, it is Rs 50,000.
If after the tribunal’s decision, the claimant wants to file an appeal, he/she can do so in the High Court within 90 days of the judgement. This however has its own conditions like Rs 25,000 or 50%, whichever is less, of the amount awarded by the tribunal has to be paid to the high court to make it entertain the appeal and also no appeal will be entertained by the high court if the amount awarded by tribunal is less than Rs 10,000.
Although it may seem like the Motor Vehicles Act has itself all figured out, yet there are situations where it doesn’t seem like it does. The way of calculating compensation is very complex but it is more complex when the one dying is a woman or a person who doesn’t earn. In such cases the court indirectly presumes that the worth of their lives is less than that of the male, or someone who earns or has dependants on him. But with coming years and future amendments this problem will hopefully also get solved.