Serious injury not only permanently imposes disabilities but inflicts deep emotional scars: SC

The appellant had claimed a compensation of ₹ 50 lakh, had incurred permanent disability, which was assessed to be 89%.

The Supreme Court has enhanced the compensation to a victim of road accident saying that courts should be mindful that a serious injury not only imposes disabilities but also inflicts deep mental and emotional scars. The apex court said it has emphasised time and again that just compensation should include all elements that would go to place the victim in as near a position as she or he was in, before the occurrence of the accident.

Whilst no amount of money or other material compensation can erase the trauma, pain and suffering that a victim undergoes after a serious accident, monetary compensation assures some measure of restitution, the apex court said.

The high court had awarded a compensation of ₹ 7,77,600 but the apex court enhanced it to ₹ 19,65,600 considering the enhancement towards loss of earning capacity and future prospects.

The top court was hearing an appeal filed by Pappu Deo Yadav who was working as a data entry operator/typist at Tis Hazari Courts and he earned a salary of ₹ 12,000 per month.

The appellant, who had claimed a compensation of ₹ 50 lakh, had incurred permanent disability, which was assessed to be 89%.

The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and the High Court re-assessed the disability to be only 45% on the assumption that the assessment for compensation was to be on a different basis, as the injury entailed loss of only one arm.

The apex court said the Delhi High Court clearly erred in holding that compensation for loss of future prospects could not be awarded. In addition to loss of future earnings (based on a determination of the income at the time of accident), the appellant is entitled for loss of future prospects.

It needs to be underlined that Courts should be mindful that a serious injury not only permanently imposes physical limitations and disabilities but too often inflicts deep mental and emotional scars upon the victim.

The attendant trauma of the victim’s having to live in a world entirely different from the one she or he is born into, as an invalid, and with degrees of dependence on others, robbed of complete personal choice or autonomy, should forever be in the judge’s mind, whenever tasked to adjudge compensation claims, a bench, comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Krishna Murari and S. Ravindra Bhat, said.

Holding that severe limitations inflicted due to injuries undermine the dignity of the individual, the top court said it deprives the person of the essence of the right to a wholesome life.

From the world of the able bodied, the victim is thrust into the world of the disabled, itself most discomfiting and unsettling.

If courts nit-pick and award niggardly amounts oblivious of these circumstances, there is resultant affront to the injured victim, the bench said.

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