Karnataka High Court Allows Legal Heirs Claim U/S 163A Motor Vehicle Act
The Karnataka High Court recently upheld the lawsuit filed under Section 163A of the Motor Vehicles Act by the legal heirs of a deceased cyclist, who was killed after a large tree branch hit him. fell on his head while riding a bicycle.
The insurance company, appealing against the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal award, argued that the accident occurred due to a falling eucalyptus branch and that this could not be treated as a motorcycle accident and therefore the company was not liable to pay the compensation. .
However, a single-judge bench of Judge HP Sandesh observed that the phrase “arising out of the use of the motor vehicle” used in Section 163A of the MV Act should be given the widest interpretation.
“All the claimant needs to show in support of their claim is that the injury or death giving rise to the claim resulted from the operation of a motor vehicle,” He held.
The bench relied primarily on the High Court judgment in Sulochana & Ors. vs. KSRTC, in which it was held that all the plaintiff needs to show in support of his claim is that the injury or death which is the basis of the claim arose out of the use of a motor vehicle.
The bench said: “The provision is not intended to introduce a rule of evidence simply shifting the burden of proof from the plaintiff to the owner and driver of the vehicle. If Parliament’s intention behind the introduction of Article 163-A 21 was simply to shift the burden of proof to the owner or driver of the vehicle, the provisions of Article 163-A would have been worded differently.“
Therefore, the court stated that it had no hesitation in considering that the victim or the legal heirs of a victim have the right to claim compensation under Article 163-A read together with Annex II of the law without pleading or proving that the accident in question resulted from any negligent act or default on the part of the owner or operator of the vehicle.
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The claimants argued that their deceased father is liable as a third party to the insurance policy.
The insurance company argued that it is liable to pay compensation to a third party and not to the owner. The plaintiffs (respondents) argued that the deceased would become a third party.
To answer this assertion, the bench relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Ramkhiladi & Anr. v. United India Insurance Company Ltd. & Anr., in which it was held that liability under Section 163-A of the Motor Vehicle Act rests with the owner of the vehicle and that a person cannot be both a plaintiff and a person on whom the responsibility falls.
Following which the bench said: “The deceased put himself in the place of the owner and he was not a third party. Therefore, given the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Ramkhiladi case, the very assertion of counsel for the plaintiffs cannot be accepted.“
Finally, the court ruled that when the additional premium was paid for personal accident cover to the owner-driver, an amount of Rs.1,00,000/- should be paid to the heirs of the borrower of the vehicle, since he stepped into the vehicle owner’s shoes.
The bench said: “Therefore, the claimants are entitled to an amount of Rs.1,00,000/- as there is explicit insurance coverage under the heading of personal accident coverage for the insured driver. Therefore, the insurance company is liable to pay compensation of Rs.1,00,000/- with interest.“
Accordingly, he amended the order made by the court and said that the claimants are entitled to a sum of Rs.1,00,000 with interest at 7.5% pa from the date of the claim request until at completion against Rs.3,62,000.
Case Title: UNITED INDIA INSURANCE CO., LTD v. SUSILA W/O. SHAMRAO PATIL
Case no.: AMF no. 22468/2011
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 406
Order date: 30TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER 2022
Appearance: CV ANGADI, LAWYER for the applicant; SANJAY S KATAGERI, LAWYER FOR R1 TO T3
Click here to read/download the order