Policy terms determine liability: Claims' tribunal
24 Sep, 2014 11:11 AM
A motor accident claims tribunal (MACT) here has ruled that a traveller in a vehicle insured under comprehensive/package policy is entitled to compensation for suffering permanent disability in a road accident involving the vehicle, even if such traveller may not be a third party.

"The liability of an insurance company is determined by the terms of the insurance policy," MACT member D M Deshmukh ruled while awarding a Rs 22 lakh compensation to a pharmacist who lost his left hand in a road accident.

The United India Insurance Company, which had insured the accident-hit vehicle in which the pharmacist, Pratap T Thorat, was travelling, had argued that the victim was an occupant of the vehicle and was not a third party. As such, the victim was entitled to only personal accident claim but no compensation, the firm argued.

The tribunal dismissed the insurance firm's argument on the grounds that the vehicle was insured under the comprehensive/package policy and the terms of the policy stated that death or bodily injury to any person including occupants carried in the vehicle is covered under the policy. As such, the petitioner (Thorat) was entitled to compensation, it ruled.

Thorat, a resident of Shivaji Housing Society in Shirur, Pune district, was travelling in a sports utility vehicle (SUV) on the Nhaware-Shirur road around 9.30pm on July 8, 2007 when the vehicle suffered a tyre burst and overturned in a pit alongside the road. His father, Tukaram, owned the vehicle which was being driven by his brother, Prashant. Thorat, who suffered grievous bone injuries to his left hand, was initially treated at a private hospital in Shirur and was later treated as an indoor patient at a private hospital in Pune. On July 9, 2008, the hospital in Pune performed an operation and amputated his left hand.

On September 25, 2008, Thorat filed a petition before the MACT through his lawyer P T Thorat, demanding Rs 30 lakh compensation on the grounds of expenses towards his hospitalization, cost of medication, amputation, pain and suffering.

The tribunal relied on evidences furnished by the police investigators while rejecting the insurance company's claim that the accident did not occur due to rash and negligent driving. The medical experts, who treated the victim, the hospital and medicine bills and the victim's earning capacity were also examined to arrive at a conclusion that the victim was entitled to compensation. The insurance company had also argued that the victim was not the owner of the insured vehicle. The tribunal conceded this argument, but observed that terms of policy were clear in terms of death or bodily injury.
Source : The Times Of India

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