Karnataka HC, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms

BENGALURU: In a case of composite negligence, the claimant is entitled to claim against both or any one of the responsible parties and recover the entire compensation from either of the two, jointly or severally, the Dharwad bench of the high court observed in a recent judgment.

Allowing an appeal, Justice Pradeep Singh Yerur directed the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) to decide the quantum of compensation payable to appellant/claimant Shivanand, a resident of Gokak town in Belagavi, who was injured in an accident involving a jeep and tractor.

The judge cited that the occurrence of accident owing to composite negligence of both the vehicles has been established in the case.

“Only one of the joint tortfeasors (individual or entity found to have committed a civil offence that injures another party) has been made party to the claim petition.

This by itself will not disentitle the claimant from claiming compensation against one of the joint tortfeasors. Hence, the tribunal has committed an error in dismissing the claim petition on the ground of no allegation of rashness and negligence being made against driver of the jeep, in which the claimant was travelling,” the judge noted.

Pointing out that the claimant had later amended his petition and involved both the joint tortfeasors for rash driving, the judge said it would not act contrary to his earlier pleading where he had made only one of them a party.

On January 26, 2010, Shivanand along with his relatives had visited Hubballi in a jeep. When they were returning to Gokak that night, the jeep was being driven in a rash manner. It collided with a tractor coming from the opposite side with the driver losing control near near Kurubagatti Cross on Gokak-Yaragatti road.

Shivanand was taken to hospital for treatment as he sustained multiple injuries all over his body. In his claim petition, he said he had spent Rs 50,000 on treatment and required another Rs 50,000 for future medical expenses.

The petition was filed under section 163A of MV Act which doesn’t require the claimant to establish with whom the fault lies. Later it was amended and converted into a claim petition under section 166 of MV Act. The legal representatives of the jeep owner initially admitted the averments in the claim petition. But when the same was amended, they denied the averments and added if tribunal comes to the conclusion that they are liable, the liability has to be fastened on the insurer as a policy was in force as on the date of the accident.

The tribunal rejected the claim holding that Shivanand cannot be considered a third party vis-a-vis the policy, the driver of the other vehicle was not traced and the claimant failed to prove rash driving on the part of the jeep driver.

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