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Only 25% blame on deceased drunk driver, family get 38 lacs compensation: Tribunal

  • A motor accident claims tribunal recently made a very rare judgment and held that if you are drunk and die in an accident, your contributory negligence in the accident amounts to just 25%; the rest of the blame lies with the other party.

    The tribunal gave this reasoning while deciding the 2008 case of a 33 year old drunk biker who was killed after a BMC dumper truck rammed into his two-wheeler. At the time of the fatal accident, the biker was riding with two others on Holi.

    The civic body has now been ordered to pay a total compensation of Rs 38.1 lakh to the biker's kin. The tribunal held that driver of the dumper truck was more responsible for causing the accident. Referring to the FIR, the tribunal said, "The deceased was under the influence of alcohol when he was riding the motorcycle but, at the same time, the driver of the dumper was duty-bound to control his vehicle."

    While calculating the compensation, the tribunal kept in mind the victim's annual income of Rs 1.4 lakh and loss of future earnings. It stated that compensation payable to the family was Rs 24.75 lakh. However, while deducting 25% towards the victim's contributory negligence, the tribunal brought down the figure to Rs 18.6 lakh.

    Additionally, the compensation amount also includes Rs 1 lakh towards loss of companionship of a spouse, Rs 1 lakh towards the loss of love and affection suffered by the mother and son and Rs 50,000 for loss of estate and towards funeral expenses incurred. The total amount of Rs 21 lakh also attracts an annual simple interest, bringing the total amount to Rs 38.1 lakh.

    The application for compensation was filed in June 2008 by six members of the victim, Pravin Mane's family, including his wife, minor son, mother and siblings. The victim ran a garment business at the time of his death.

    They claimed that while Mane was riding the bike with due care and caution at a moderate speed, the truck rammed into it at full speed in a rash and negligent manner. Mane sustained multiple injuries and died on the way to the hospital. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) denied that the dumper truck driver, on his way from the Deonar dumping ground to collect garbage from Vikhroli, was rash and negligent.

    BMC contended that the driver had given a signal before taking a left turn. It alleged that at that time, Mane's bike came at high speed from the opposite direction and collided with the front and middle portion of the truck. "All the three riders seated on the motorcycle were under the influence of alcohol and so the accident occurred solely due to the negligence of the deceased as he could not control his motor cycle," the BMC submitted.


    OUR TAKE

    The decision of the tribunal holding both the parties partly liable for the accident and death is the best way to handle it. Even if the victim died as a result of the accident, we cannot ignore the fact that his intoxicated condition was highly liable for it. Moreover, we must also not forget the fact that the dumper trucks are huge vehicles and should be carefully managed by the driver to prevent any sort of mishap. The decision has balanced both these points. 


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