When a person is the victim of a motor vehicle accident, compensation can be claimed for the harm that is caused to the person. This compensation can include a monetary payment for ‘loss of consortium’, which refers to the harm that is caused to personal/family relationships because of the motor accident. The Supreme Court has now said that motor accident compensation can be given not only to the spouse, but also to the children and parents of the accident victim.
Which law provides compensation for motor vehicle accidents?
In India, the law that regulates motor vehicles is the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
Under Section 161 of the Act, the Central government provides for compensation in case of hit and run motor accidents. If a person dies from a hit and run motor accident, a sum of at least two lakh rupees is given as compensation by the government. If a person gets seriously hurt from a hit and run motor accident, at least fifty thousand rupees is provided as compensation.
Section 164 states that if a person is seriously hurt, or dies due to an accident caused by a motor vehicle, the owner or insurer of that vehicle has to pay compensation. The compensation amount is 5 lakh rupees in case of death, or 2.5 lakh rupees in case of grievous hurt. The compensation can be paid to the victim or the victim’s legal successors (usually the family members of the victim).
The Supreme Court judgement
In case of a motor vehicle accident, an application for compensation can be made to a Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. The application for compensation can be made by the person who has been injured. If a person has died because of an accident, the application can be made by any or all legal representatives of the deceased (dead person).
In its judgement, the Supreme Court referred to the case of United India Insurance Company v. Satinder Kaur. The Court affirmed that the right to consortium would include the company, care, help, comfort, guidance, and affection of the deceased, which is a loss to his family when a person dies from a motor vehicle accident. With respect to a spouse, the spouse of the deceased can claim compensation for loss of sexual relations.
Parental consortium is granted to children who lose the care and protection of their parents in motor vehicle accidents. Compensation can be given to a child upon the premature death of a parent, for loss of parental aid, protection, affection, society, discipline, guidance and training.
Filial consortium is the right of parents to get compensation in case their child dies due to a motor vehicle accident. This compensation is given because an accident leading to the death of a child can cause great shock and agony to his parents.
Thus, the Supreme Court confirmed that in case of motor vehicle accidents, compensation for loss of consortium includes spousal consortium, parental consortium, as well as filial consortium i.e., compensation given to the spouse, children and parents of the accident victim.