Nearly 18 years after he met with a major accident, Dr Dattatray Shinde will get an enhanced compensation of Rs34.50 lakh of which Rs 23.50 lakh will carry an interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum, as ordered by the Bombay high court.
The Maharashtra Accident Claims Tribunal had granted him a compensation of Rs8.50 lakh when he became a victim of paraplegia at a young age of 25 years.
Justice Abhay Oak considered the expenses Dr Shinde had incurred on treatment, money required for his future treatment and the fact that he had become 100% handicapped — his body is paralysed below the waist.
The high court granted him a compensation of Rs12.96 lakh each for loss of income and towards cost of attendant, Rs3.75 lakh on account of ‘pain and suffering’ and Rs2.50 lakh for future medical expenditure.
The judge took strong exception to the stand taken by the counsel for New India Assurance Company Limited. Opposing the claim for loss of livelihood, the counsel for the insurance company submitted that the victim could examine patients sitting in a wheel chair, to which the judge said: “While it is true that an advocate is under an obligation to do his best in the interest of his client, the obligation is limited by his position as an officer of the court.”
“An advocate cannot be passive about the term ‘officer of the court’. He has to do the best for his client so long as it does not conflict with the interests of justice,” the judge said.
The accident occured on the Mumbai-Bangalore National High Way when Dr Shinde was on his way to Kolhapur. He had halted under a tree by the roadside when a speeding Tempo Trax rammed into him. He sustained serious injuries and the fracture of his twelfth thoracic vertebra resulted in complete paraplegia below the waist.
‘They are victims of the system’
“In a sense, the victims of motor accidents are the victims of the system,” the Bombay high court observed while enhancing the amount of compensation to an accident victim, Dr Dattatray Shinde, who became a victim of paraplegia at an age of 25 years.
“In our country, we have bad road conditions. We do not have any kind of traffic discipline. The street lighting is poor. There are no road dividers on major roads. In mofussil areas, the means of transport are limited,” Justice Abhay Oak noted. “The cumulative effect of all these factors is a large number of road accidents.”
While expressing displeasure over the ‘inhumane’ approach of the insurance company in Dr Shinde’s case, the judge said it is the duty of the lawyers representing various parties to assist the court in the mission of finding the truth and arriving at a just compensation. HTC