Road accidents: Can a tooth fracture be defined as ‘grievous injury’?

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on October 24, 2019

Shelling out ₹2.5 lakh compensation for all sorts of injuries – including tooth and bone fractures — is an issue the insurance firms are resisting

Compensation under new Motor Vehicle Act to use IPC as benchmark

The Indian Penal Code (IPC) will serve as a benchmark to decide what constitutes a ‘grievous injury’ in accidents, according to a Road Ministry official. This definition will be used to fix the amount that an accident victim can claim under the new Motor Vehicle Act, 2019. As per the IPC, grievous injuries include “fracture or dislocation of a bone or tooth”.

As per the Motor Vehicle Act 2019, accident victims who are grievously injured can get ₹2.5 lakh within a few months of the accident, if they give up the right to claim higher amount in the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT). Also, in case of death of the accident victim insurance firms have to pay compensation within a time frame, provided the victim’s family agrees to accept ₹5 lakh and give up its right to go to MACT seeking higher compensation.

For the time-bound compensation payment regime to set in, the rules under the new law defining the process have to be notified. As a result, at present, the older regime continues on how the accident victims are being compensated.

Panel to frame rules

A sub-committee — comprising representatives from Road Ministry, some States, GIC (General Insurance Corporation), IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority), and Department of Financial Services (DFS) and transporters — is looking to frame the rules, which have to be notified for the new time-based compensation regime to set in. The committee met on Wednesday. “The rules that govern the quantum of compensation, procedure and exclusion clauses is likely be defined by the Committee,” said another source in the know.

Shelling out ₹2.5 lakh compensation for all sorts of injuries – including tooth and bone fractures — is an issue the insurance companies are resisting, said a source involved in the process of making rules.

That said, stakeholders have also turned the same argument around to question the issue of putting an upper limit on compensation payout. “What if an accident victim – who is crippled for the remaining time of his life – and deserves ₹1 crore compensation, ends up getting ₹2.5 lakh just because ₹2.5 lakh was available immediately,” asked SP Singh, Senior Fellow, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training.

At present, this is how the process works. After an accident, police has to file a report in the MACT stating the case details. After this, the MACT decides the quantum of compensation based on the victim’s age, education, income and dependents.

In the run up to approval of the Act, the upper limit of ₹5 lakh for compensation was set based on an analysis which showed that the award by MACT in 75 per cent of cases where the accident victim lost his life was below ₹5 lakh, an amount that accrued to victims after a delay of one to seven years.

In fact, even the first draft of the amendment had proposed much higher compensation amounts.

Published on October 24, 2019

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