In cases related to compensation claims in road accidents, the case is not expected to be proved like a criminal trial, the High Court of Karnataka has said. “It is well known that in a case relating to motor accident claims, the claimants are not required to prove the case as it is required to be done in a criminal trial. The court must keep this distinction in mind,” the court said recently while dismissing an appeal filed by an insurance company challenging the compensation awarded to an accident victim’s family.

The Division Bench of Justices K Somashekar and Rajesh Rai K was hearing two appeals — one filed by Bajaj Allianz Insurance and another filed by Chikka Thayamma and Rame Gowda, the parents of one Divakar M R who died in an accident on August 13, 2019.

Divakar met with an accident near Durgaparameshwari Temple in Nagarabhavi while riding a motorcycle.

A car is said to have caused the accident resulting in his death in a nearby private hospital where he was taken for treatment. Divakar was working in a bar and restaurant and earning Rs 18,000 per month.

The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) awarded compensation of Rs 15,43,600 to the parents of Divakar. They approached the HC seeking enhancement of compensation. The insurer approached the HC stating that the complaint about the accident did not mention the involvement of the car and it was the negligence of Divakar that had resulted in his death.

The HC, in its judgement, said strict proof of the accident need not be proved by the claimants for compensation.

“A holistic view of the evidence has to be taken into consideration by the tribunal and strict proof of an accident caused by a particular vehicle in a particular manner need not be established by the claimants. The claimants have to establish their case on the touchstone of preponderance of probabilities,” the HC said.

Dismissing the appeal filed by the insurer, the HC said: “The standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt cannot be applied while considering the petition seeking compensation on account of death or injury in a road traffic accident. Therefore, the domain it is vested with the tribunal in appreciating evidence in terms of social justice and it should be extended and considered to a greater extent but not in conjectures and surmises but more credentiality must be given to that aspect.

The HC also found the compensation awarded by the MACT to be correct and dismissed the appeal of the victim’s parents for enhancement.

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