Personal Injury Claims
BY SHREYA GHOSH
Personal injury as the name itself suggests, is an injury to a person’s body or mind in general legal terms. So personal injury claim, is a claim for recovering compensation by filing a case where you have sustained injury in an accident in case the fault is not yours, from the party whose negligence caused the injury.
Legal Provisions under Indian Law:
To claim for personal injury, a legal case can be filed formally in a civil court or it can be resolved through informal settlement before a case is filed. There is a time limit within which a person can file for such a claim, which starts from when the person/plaintiff suffers the injury or finds out about it. Every state provides different time limits under its laws. The development of laws in this field has taken place through decisions of courts, treaties or to say so “Common Law”, and not through statutes.
The purpose of the law is to financially compensate the person and make good the injury suffered by the person. The personal injury law applies to accidents, defamatory statements against a person, which harms the person’s reputation. There are also cases where this provision will be applicable even when there is no negligent act on the part of the opposite party/defendant but he/she can be held liable for the injury sustained by the plaintiff, for example, a defective product. Generally, two situations will never be exactly same, so a standard or common path cannot be followed in each case.
- The Personal Injuries (Compensation Insurance) Act, 1963
Under this Act, an employer can get compensation from the employee/workmen in case he/she suffers personal injury in the course of employment; the employer is liable to pay insurance for the same. The Act also clearly speaks about the amount of compensation that shall be paid to an employee/workmen in different circumstances depending whether the employee suffered a total disablement, partial disablement or death, which is well defined under the Act. Central Government also provides for Personal Injuries (Compensation Insurance) Fund, and all payments shall be transferred to this fund.
- The Personal Injuries (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1962
As per this Act, The Central Government may make provisions for the grant of relief in case a person sustains any injury as mentioned in the Act, during the period of emergency. For obtaining a grant under these provisions for himself of for anyone else, if a person makes a false representation purposely, will be punishable for a term, which may extend to three months.
- Amati Hymavathi And Anr. Vs Nissankararao Srikrishnamurthy, 1998
The case dealt with the fate of the survivors after the death of their loved one’s in Andhra Pradesh High Court. This claim petition was filed for compensation for the death of children due to motor accidents. Compensation was allowed along with costs in this case. Though the amount of agony suffered may differ in different circumstances, but the result of death is alike in law and experience.
- Hanumanth Reddy And Anr. Vs Jaswanth Singh Bhatia And Ors., 1996
This case dealt with the claimants challenging the award of the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal being inadequate in the case of the death of the deceased, who was the son of the claimants, due to the negligence of the respondents. The Andhra Pradesh High Court found the considerations that the Tribunal took in account while granting the compensation of Rs.10, 000 as inappropriate. The Andhra Pradesh High Court increased amount of compensation to Rs.50, 000 along with costs and simple interest 12% from the date of the said petition to the date of payment of the costs as changed.
- Mogili Venkateswarlu vs Miriyala Balaramaiah And Anr., 1996
In this case the claimant lost his right leg below the knee and also some serious injury on his left leg due to injuries suffered from a motor vehicle accident, due to the negligence of the respondents. It was a permanent disability up to 50%. The amount of compensation awarded by the Motor Vehicle Accidents Claims Tribunal was held to be inadequate. The claimant was a labourer. The amount of compensation was increased along with costs and a simple interest at the rate of 12% p.a. was provided from the date of the petition till the date of payment.
Various factors are taken in account for while providing for compensations in a personal injury claim. Compensations must take in note the costs of medical treatment undergone due to the injury, loss of income suffered in case the sufferer loses his job and salary, the pain and mental agony that has been suffered, emotional distress or the psychological impact on the sufferer’s mind and so on. The nature of the act, severity of the act all has to be taken in account. As already said, no two situations will be exactly similar, so each case had to be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances.
Punitive damages may also be awarded along with the compensation in case the act of the other party is extraordinarily careless. The act or amount of contribution of the party injured towards the incident may reduce the amount of compensation or damages that can be claimed by the sufferer. In other words, contributory negligence may lead to a failure in such claims.
Shreya Ghossh is a skilled writer and has graduated B.A.LL.B from the Institute of Legal Studies, Bangalore.