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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

Car borrower entitled to insurance claim as much as owner: Punjab and Haryana HC

HC upholds ₹26.12-lakh compensation awarded to victim by the MACT, saying Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act is a piece of welfare legislation and strict rules of evidence and procedure are not applicable there.

chandigarh Updated: Mar 25, 2019 07:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
(Representative image )

A person driving a borrowed vehicle is entitled to compensation in a road accident on a par with the owner, irrespective of the negligence attributed for the same, the Punjab and Haryana high court has said..

The high court bench of justice HS Madaan, dismissed the appeal of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Ltd, filed against the compensation awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT), Chandigarh, and upheld the ₹26.12-lakh compensation awarded to a Sector-35 family.

In June 2010, one Rakesh Sharma, who had borrowed a Maruti Zen car of his friend for a visit to somewhere in Punjab, was on his way back when he met with an accident in Landran and succumbed to his injuries.

His family had sought a compensation of ₹1 crore from the offending vehicle — a tractor trolley —, its driver, owner and the firm that the car was insured with, among others.

The MACT, Chandigarh, in 2013 had awarded ₹26.12-lakh compensation, to be paid by the insurance firm of the car. The firm, in January 2016, approached the high court against the decision, arguing that the victim was not the owner-driver but a borrower of the car and can’t claim the compensation since he was not even a passenger. It was also argued that negligence for the accident in question was attributed to the driver of the tractor trolley, hence, it can’t be asked to pay up.

During the hearing, it came to light that tractor trolley was not insured and driver of tractor trolley was acquitted of the charges of negligent driving.

The court, however, took note of the fact that policy bought by the Maruti Zen car owner was a comprehensive/package policy where additional premium had been paid for covering the risk of owner-driver; and that in the comprehensive policy, the risk of passengers is covered and it is inbuilt.

The bench referred to a Supreme Court judgment in which it had opined that if the borrower of the vehicle steps into the shoes of the owner, the terms of the policy which is comprehensive/package policy will include the personal accident claim of the person driving the vehicle provided he holds a valid driver’s licence.

The high court bench said that tribunal did not commit any error in fixing the liability against the firm. “It has to be taken into view that Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act is a piece of welfare legislation. It was enacted by the Parliament to provide relief to the persons, who suffered injuries in the motor vehicular accident as well as to the legal representatives of the victims, who unfortunately lost their lives in such mishaps. Strict rules of evidence and procedure are not applicable there,” the court said.

First Published: Mar 23, 2019 22:37 IST

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