14 Sep 2023 3:54 PM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has enhanced the compensation awarded to an advocate by the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal, stating that the disability of lower limb certainly hinders her ability to efficiently serve clients and move quickly between courts, potentially impacting her income and professional responsibilities. A division bench of Justice K Somashekar and Justice Umesh M Adiga...
The Karnataka High Court has enhanced the compensation awarded to an advocate by the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal, stating that the disability of lower limb certainly hinders her ability to efficiently serve clients and move quickly between courts, potentially impacting her income and professional responsibilities.
A division bench of Justice K Somashekar and Justice Umesh M Adiga partly allowed the appeal filed by a 66-year-old Advocate and increased the compensation amount to Rs.21,78,350, as against Rs.15,78,350 awarded by the Tribunal.
“The claimant is an advocate. According to her evidence she has been practicing in High Court & trial Courts. To attend cases of her clients she has to attend the different Courts. Due to difficulty to walk, she cannot move fast to attend different Courts. Considering her difficulty of movements, clients may think of discontinue her service, which would affect her earnings and discharge her duties effectively and efficiently. Disability of lower limb of the claimant definitely affects her movements in attending different court halls. Considering these facts, the amount of compensation awarded by the Tribunal under the head 'Loss of amenities' needs to be enhanced.”
The claimant submitted that on 01.01.2019 at about 2.00 p.m. she met with an accident due to rash and negligent driving of a car by its driver. Due to the impact of the accident, she sustained severe injuries to the left lower limb, calf muscle of left leg and fracture of the knee joint. She had taken treatment as an in-patient in many hospitals and had spent more than Rs.5,00,000 towards medical expenses. She underwent surgery and implants were inserted.
It was argued that due to the injuries sustained in the accident, she is unable to continue her profession as she was doing it earlier. For these reasons, she sought compensation of Rs 1 crore.
The Karnataka Government Insurance Department opposed the plea and sought a reduction in the compensation amount awarded arguing that the Tribunal has taken the income of the claimant on the higher side. It was argued that the alleged disability of fracture of the knee joint may not affect the earning capacity of the claimant and that she could practise as an advocate without any difficulty.
On going through the records, the Court rejected the contention of the insurance company.
“The claimant produced the Income Tax Assessment for the year 2016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018- 2019. Considering the said income, the Tribunal has calculated earnings of the claimant as Rs.30,000 per month. The said finding is based on the record. The respondents before the Tribunal have not made out any case to disagree with the findings of the Tribunal.”
The Court then considered the evidence of PW1 (claimant) & PW5 (doctor) while assessing the disability. PW-5 in his evidence had narrated the total disability of left lower limb at 56% and that of her whole body at 28%. The bench thus held that the Tribunal has awarded compensation of Rs.7,05,600/- under the head 'Future earning capacity due to permanent disability' and that the said amount was just and reasonable.
Similarly, it refused to interfere with the amount of compensation awarded under the head 'Medical expenses' on the basis of the documents produced before the Tribunal i.e., medical records, receipts etc.
However, the amount of compensation awarded of Rs 5,000 under the head towards 'Loss of income during the laid up period' was modified.
“Looking to the nature of injuries, at least for a period of six months the claimant might not be in a position to do any work and thereby lost her income for a period of six months, which needs to be compensated. Looking at the disability stated by PW-5 and also difficulties stated by PW-1 - claimant in her evidence, it is just necessary to enhance the compensation under the head 'loss of amenities'.”
Accordingly, it partly allowed the appeal and said,
“The claimant is entitled for compensation of Rs.21,78,350/- as against Rs.15,78,350/- awarded by the Tribunal and claimant is entitled for enhanced compensation of Rs.6,00,000/- along with interest @ 6% per annum on the enhanced compensation from the date of petition till its payment.
The Karnataka Government Insurance Department was accordingly directed to pay the said amount within eight weeks.
Appearance: Senior Advocate S.N.Ashwathnarayana for Advocate S A Sudhindra for Appellant.
HCGP Aruna G S for R2.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 355
Case Title: Meenakumari K R And Mission Director (NRLM) & Others
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment