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Motor Accident | Claimant Compensated By His Insurer Not Entitled To Compensation For Same Damages From Offending Vehicle's Insurer: Kerala High Court

Hannah M Varghese
10 Jun 2022 4:45 AM GMT
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The Kerala High Court has recently established that a claimant who was compensated by his own insurer is not entitled to get any compensation again for the very same damages from the owner or insurer of the offending vehicle in cases of motor accidents.

Justice A. Badharudeen held so after finding that in Economic Transport Organisation v. Charan Spinning Mills (P) Ltd, the Apex Court had held that the law of insurance recognises an equitable corollary of the principle of indemnity; when the insurer had indemnified the insured, the rights and remedies of the insured against the wrongdoer stand transferred to the insurer.

"When the insurer under a policy discharged liability in terms of the contract of indemnity, the insurer who issued policy is subrogated in the place of the insured or stepped into the shoes of the insured and therefore, the insured cannot claim the said amount again from another insurer."

The appellant met with a motor accident where a mini lorry driven by the 4th respondent in a rash and negligent manner hit his car, after which he sustained personal injuries and sustained damages to his car. He moved the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal with two separate applications claiming compensation for the same.

It was argued that since he had obtained a sum from the insurer of his car, he was entitled to get the balance amount of his total loss from the insurer of the offending mini lorry. However, the lorry's insurer objected to this citing that he could not claim the amount already received again.

After appraising the evidence, the Tribunal dismissed the suit for compensation from the lorry's insurer. The appellant, therefore, approached the High Court challenging this award.

Advocate Anil S. Raj appearing for the appellant submitted that since he sustained a total loss of Rs.5,20,666/-, adjusting the amount already received, the remaining amount of Rs.1,84,015/- was liable to be paid by the insurer of the mini lorry since its driver contributed to the accident.

On the other hand, Advocate P.K. Santhamma appeared for the insurance company and submitted that the appellant's insurer assessed the total damages to the vehicle to the tune of Rs.3,36,651/- after reducing the depreciation value. Therefore, the appellant was not entitled to get any amount as claimed.

The Court noted that the crucial question of law involved here was nothing but the law of subrogation.

But before discussing the same, the Judge laid down that appellant's own insurer had assessed the total amount entitled by the appellant at Rs.3,36,651/- and as per the survey report, the assessment was Rs.2,99,800/- which was less than the amount assessed by his insurer. In this context, the principle of subrogation was discussed by the Court.

It was noted that the principle of subrogation is incorporated under Section 69 of the Indian Contract Act, 1972 and Section 92 of the Transfer of Property Act. Here, the appellant had already received the compensation he was entitled to, and therefore could not claim anything more than the amount assessed and given by his own insurer.

"The third respondent subrogated into the shoes of the appellant and therefore, the amount, if any, paid by the third respondent can be realised by the second respondent from the third respondent applying the principle of subrogation and therefore, the appellant is not entitled to get anything as claimed."

Therefore, it was held that the tribunal rightly dismissed the appellant's claim and the appeal was accordingly dismissed.

Case Title: Antony v. V.K. Suresh & Ors.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 272

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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