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Chander Kumar Vs. State of Haryana and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1(1985)ACC327
AppellantChander Kumar
RespondentState of Haryana and ors.
Excerpt:
.....be in accordance with law - 5. disastrous indeed have been the consequences that be fell chander kumar pahwa on account of the injuries he sustained in this accident. during the next week, skin over the fracture site in the left leg failed to survive, and infection development under it. the grafts took well and the danger passed. his weak left leg with some stiffness of knee and ankle will need life long care. if the surgical and rehabilitation programmes still to be completed, succeed well, his permanent disability will be 90% (ninety per cent). if surgery and rehabilitation are not fully successful, the permanent disability may be 100% (one hundred per cent).'7. next to note is the testimony of p. this left leg had a bad compound fracture of both the bones from which eleven..........his rash and negligent driving.3. the passenger who suffered the most in this accident was chander kumar pahwa who was awarded rs. 64,480/- as compensation, while rs. 3,900/- were awarded to k.n. singh and rs. 22,360/- to manjit singh aujla, the two other injured claimants here.4. the controversy in appeal now is with regard to the quantum of compensation payable to the claimants.5. disastrous indeed have been the consequences that be fell chander kumar pahwa on account of the injuries he sustained in this accident. prolonged spells of hospitalisation and several operations later, his state now is that he has an amputated right leg, from above the knee and stiffness in the ankle and knee joint of his left leg resulting from fracture in this leg too.6. to give a history of what chander.....
Judgment:

S.S. Sodhi, J.

1. Several passengers sustained injuries when the Haryana Roadways Bus HRM 7256, they were travelling in, suddenly went off the road and hit into a tree. This happened at about 3.45 A.M. on May 24, 1976 near the road turning to the Airport at Chandigarh. This bus was coming from Delhi enrouts to Chandigarh at that time.

2. The blame for the accident was fastened upon the bus driver with the Tribunal holding that the accident has been caused entirely due to his rash and negligent driving.

3. The passenger who suffered the most in this accident was Chander Kumar Pahwa who was awarded Rs. 64,480/- as compensation, while Rs. 3,900/- were awarded to K.N. Singh and Rs. 22,360/- to Manjit Singh Aujla, the two other injured claimants here.

4. The controversy in appeal now Is with regard to the quantum of compensation payable to the claimants.

5. Disastrous indeed have been the consequences that be fell Chander Kumar Pahwa on account of the injuries he sustained in this accident. Prolonged spells of hospitalisation and several operations later, his state now is that he has an amputated right leg, from above the knee and stiffness in the ankle and knee joint of his left leg resulting from fracture in this leg too.

6. To give a history of what Chander Kumar Pahwa has had to undergo, the starting point must be Exhibit P-1 the extract of his medical record at PGI Chandigarh prepared by P.W. 1 Dr. Balkrishnan, Professor of Plastic Surgery at the P.G.I. Chandigarh, who was the consulting doctor for the treatment of this claimant, This contains a summary of the medical care of , Chander Kumar Pahwa at the P.G.I. covering 319 days of his hospitalisation there commending from his admission on May 24, 1976, the day the accident occurred. The relevant part Exhibit P-l deserves to be reproduced in extenso.

It reads as under:

He was admitted to the Emergency ward at 10 A.M. on 24-5-1976 with a history of multiple injuries due to bus accident at about 4.30 A.M. that morning. The injuries were extensive wounds around the right knee, with loss of the leg below that level. Crush injury of the left leg below with multiple fractures of the tibia, fracture of the fibula, extensive muscle damage, and lacerated wounds of the skin exposing the fractures. Contusion over the left loin and left side of the head. Lacerated wounds over the right shoulder and the left ear.

He was in severe shock. After 8 hours of resuscitation including 2 units of blood, the essential primary operation was done by Dr. V.P. Bansal, the orthopaedic surgeon. This included.

Amputation above the right knee: Closure of wounds over the left leg after surgical toilet and the nailing of fractured Tibia in position.

During the next week, skin over the fracture site in the left leg failed to survive, and infection development under it. On 2-6-1976, he developed severe spasm of the bronchiles during anaesthesis given for a minor operation to remove the dead tissues. This was controlled by cortisone. On 9-6-1976 removal of the dead tissues was completed uneventhfully under anaesthesia, and a plaster cast was applied to the leg. After another week of intensive care to control the local infection on 18-6-1976 most of the wound on the left leg was convered by thin skin grafts taken from the amputation stump on the right side, which was the only area that could he used for this purpose at that time. This was a critical interim step to save life and limb. The grafts took well and the danger passed.

Between 20 and 30 June 1976, he had bouts of intermittent fever. Blood tests showed malaria parasites, and the infection was controlled by a full course of treatment. His haemoglobin level had dropped to 9 gms % but improved gradually in the next two weeks.

On 1-7-1976 it was clear that a 10 cm segment of tibia between two fractures with no overlying skin cover was dead, and that a bonegraft here will be required. For full control of infection and stable healing of the fractures it was decided to transfer a pedicle graft of full thickness skin from the abdomen measuring X 11 cm to the left leg, using the left wrist for a carrier attachment. Dr. P.S. Chari the plastic surgeon, has done 6 operations according to this plan, on 5-8-1976, 23-9-1976, 20-1-1977, 1-2-1977, 17-3-1977 and 31-3-1977. At least two more operations will be required to complete the spread and adjustment on this large skin flap over the critical area on the left. He will, later on, have a major bone operation to make the leg capable of bearing weight.

Between 2319 and 15-10-1976, he had a flare up of infection in the unstable area on the leg, with complications of toxamia, and bullous dermatitis over the right thigh stump and flank. This was controlled by coritisone, cloxacillin, and gentamycin.

So far he has spent 319 days in hospital as a bed patient. For another 100 days at least he is likely to need hospital care. After that he will require an intensive rehabilitation programme with an above knee artificial limb fitted on the right side. His weak left leg with some stiffness of knee and ankle will need life long care.

If the surgical and rehabilitation programmes still to be completed, succeed well, his permanent disability will be 90% (Ninety per cent). If surgery and rehabilitation are not fully successful, the permanent disability may be 100% (one hundred per cent).'

7. Next to note is the testimony of P.W. 2 Dr. V.P. Bansal, Head of the Department of Orthopadics, at the P.G.I. Chandigarh, under whose supervision both legs of claimant Chander Kumar Pahwa were operated upon, soon after he had been admitted in this hospital. Dr. Bansal deposed that the right leg of the claimant was amputated on the day of his admission in the hospital i.e. May 24,1976 and on the left side thorough debriment was done along with the intramendullary nailing to stablise the tibia.

8. On July 4, 1977, the day when Dr. Bansal testified before the Tribunal, he stated that the right leg of the claimant, whereof amputation had been done had healed, but as regards the left leg efforts were still being made to cover the wound with skin grafts and that after the wound had been so covered, there would be another operation known as bone grafting of the tibia which would require a minimum period of six months to develop, with another six months thereafter for the bone to unite and physiotherapu would be required to bring back the movements of the ankle, knee and left hip. What deserves pointed mention is that Dr. Bansal was still not certain that the left leg could eventually be saved from amputation.

9. The next important evidence to be considered is that allowed to be adduced as additional evidence in appeal which was recorded by the Tribunal when the case was remitted to it for this purpose. Deposing from the medical file of Chander Kumar Pahwa, PW 20 Dr. P.S. Chari, Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery, P.G.I. Chandigarh stated that at the time of his discharge from the P.G.I. on May 16, 1977, the right leg of the claimant had been amputated and he had an unstayanle left leg. This left leg had a bad compound fracture of both the bones from which eleven operations had been done in an effort to save it. Nine of these operations were directly related to grafting of skin. The skin was taken from the thigh and tube of skin was also made over the abdomen which was then attached to his left wrist and carried to the defect on the left leg. He further stated that Chander Kumar Pahwa could not stand at the time of his discharge from the hospital as there was a gap in the bones of his leg. Bone grafting had not been done at that time. After his discharge he came frequently for follow up and was readmitted in the hospital on August 26, 1978 and remained admitted till October 21, 1978. During the period bone graft was taken from the hip to bridge the gap between the bones of the left leg. The operation was a partial success. Grafting was complete. . The wound over the leg healed but there was some infection from where the bone graft had been taken. The claimant was not able to stand at the time of his discharge. He was very abese and had been advised to reduce his weight so that his leg could stand it.

10. Dr. P.S. Chari went on to depose that Chander Kumar Pahwa was again admitted on June 23, 1979 and was in hospital until his discharge on August 11, 1979. Bone grafting was again done as X-ray showed that upper part of the bone grafting had not united properly.

11. There is then the testimony of Dr. Sukhbir Singh Sanwan of the Orthopaedics Department, Medical College, Rohtak who testified to the condition of claimant Chander Kumar Pahwa as on August 24, 1984. After examining his X-ray he stated that the fractures shown the rein had healed, but the claimant could not put his weight on his legs except with the help of claipers which he was waring. His right leg had been amputater and there was stiffness of the ankle and knee joint of his left leg. He opined that there was 90 per cent disability on account of amputation of his right leg and

10 per cent disability for the stiffness of his ankle and knee joint of his left leg.

12. It. would also be pertinent to take note of the photographs Exhibits PW 22/5 to BW 22/12 of the claimant which show his present state and . condition particulary the deformity caused to him by his injuries.

13. Finally there is the statement of the claimant himself with regard to his treatment and condition. He deposed that his left leg was aching and he cannot put pressure on it and he attributed his bring fat to his being confined to bed for long period. It was also stated by him that he had been rendered unfit to do any field job.

14. As has been mentioned earlier, the claimant had to undergo long spells of hospitalisation. It has come in record that at the P.G.I. Chandigarh he remained in the hospital from May 24, 1976 to May 16, 1977, from December, 1977 to March 1978 and from June 23, 1979 to August 11, 1979. He was also admitted at the Nevadic Prosthetic Centre, near the Airport at Chandigarh from August 26, 1978 to October 31, 1978 and finally he remained admitted the Medical College Hospital, Rohtak from December 5, 1980 to January 21, 1981.

15. Such being the nature, extent and consequences of the injuries suffered, particulary the serious disabilities that the claimant is now left with in account thereof for the rest of his life, the amount of Rs. 15,000/- awarded for pain and suffering, Rs. 25,000/- for physical disability and Rs. 6,000/- for conveyance costs, cannot but he described as wholly inadequate. In the circumstances a sum of Rs. one lac deserves to be awarded for pain and suffering and physical disabilities and another Rs. 30,000/- to compensate the claimant for the burden of conveyance charges which have undoubtedly now become an unavoidable expense for him.

16. The other claim is for loss of salary of both the claimant and his wife. It has come on the record that on account of this accident Chander Kumar Pahwa had to remain on leave without pay from December 2, 1976 to January 24, 1981. During this period he would have earned Rs. 26,001/-. Similarly his wife too had to remain on leave without pay for a year in order to look after her husband. Her per month, this claim must thus be accepted to the extent of Rs. 5,400/- salary being Rs. 450/- future advancement in his career would also now stand jeoperdised. Rs. 40,000/- could be taken to provide adequate recompense to the claimant on these counts.

17. Finally there is the matter of medical expenses incurred by the claimant for his treatment. Being a Government servant the claimant was indoubtedly entitled to medical reimbursement but as is well-known such reimbursement does not cover all the expenses that one has to incur in the course of his medical treatment. Examples as such expenses would be special diet, transportation to and from the hospital and other incidental expenses, in the circumstances such expenses may be estimated at amount Rs. 20,000/-. the total compensation payable to the claimant under various heads, therefore, reserves to be enhanced to the round figure of Rs. Two Lacs.

18. Next to consider is the case of the claimant K.K. Nanda. He was 8 years of age at the time of the accident. The injuries sustained by him re set out in the discharge certificate exhibit P/38 These being:

(1) Multiple lacerated would face.

(2) Fracture zygoma (1).

(3) Fracture mandible at the samus of left side.

(4) Fracture base of 3rd metacorpal.

Mr. N.R. Nanda remained admitted in the hospital for almost a week from May 24, 1978 to 31, 1978.

19. Considering the nature and extent of the injuries suffer, the amount claimed does indeed land substance to the view expressed by the Tribunal that there was an attempt here by this claimant to convert this misfortune into a fortune, the amount claimed being Rs. 3,70,000/-. Indeed, when regard is had to the claims put forth by the claimant under the various heads a deliberate design in this behalf is clearly discernable.

20. The main head under which enhanced compensation was sought was hoarsencess of voice said to have been caused by the injuries suffered in this accident. Thus, it was said now prevented him from leading a normal life. There was undoubtedly a defect of this kind detected by the Tribunal when this claimant came into the witness box. There is a specific note to this effect, but what the claimant has filed to establish is that this was a defect relatable to any injury suffered in the accident. There is no mention in the Discharge Certificate exhibit P/38 of any damage to the vocal cord and no doctor has been examined from the P.G.I. Chandigarh to support the claim an this point. The only doctor examined here was PW 7, Dr. P.S. Saharia of the Safdarjang Hospital, Delhi, who deposed to having examined the claimant on one occasion only and that too on April 1, 1977. He no doubt opined that the left vocal cord of the claimant was not mobile and this could be due to a motor accident, but he was obviously not in a position to state whether this injury had been caused in this particular accident. As is well-known disabilities do come up in old age, but unless such an injury can be connected to the accident, no amount can be awarded to the claimant on this amount.

21. A large sum of money had been claimed for loss of income on the plea that the claimant was employed at a salary of Rs. 1,000/- per month with other facilities and he lost this job on account of this accident and thereby suffered a financial loss of Rs. 1,600/- per month for a period of ten years. It will be recalled that the claimant was 68 years of age at the time of this accident. On his own showing, he had been employed with the Punjab State Electricity Board from where he had retired in 1962 at the age of 55 years. He stated that he was thereafter employed at Rs. 400/- per month and then he took up his present employment with PW 13 Vijay Kumar Chawla. This V.K. Chawla was his previous employer too. He, no doubt, deposed that the claimant had been employed by him, but he brought no record to show any salary ever having been paid to the claimant. It is significant that he brought the attendance register but not the salary register. This becomes all the more significant in the face of the statement of N.K. Nanda that he used to sign vouchers for his salary. Even such vouchers were not produced.

22. Further, V.K. Chawla deposed that he had employed the claimant as he had taken up a contract at Nangal which would mean that the appointment would ensure only for the period of the contract. What this contract was and the period thereof, he did not care to specify. This being the state of the evidence on record, it is not possible to take a view other than that taken by the Tribunal with regard to the amount payable to the claimant for loss of income.

23. Where the claimant is indeed entitled to enhanced compensation is with regard to the pain and suffering caused to him by the injuries he suffer and the loss of amenities of life that accrued to him on that account. This amount observes to be enhanced to Rs. 10,000/-.

24. Similarly the amount payable to the claimant as medical expenses also deserves to be enhanced, though not to the extent as claimed by the claimant. There can be no manner of doubt that the claimant must have spent Rs. 500/- to Rs. 600/- on his medicines. There is then a claim for the amount that he spent on his denture and glasses that were broken. He would also be entitled to taxi fare both for himself and his wife from Delhi to Chandigarh and back besides some amount for special diet. The accounts submitted by him, in this behalf, do not inspire confidence. Taking an overall view of the matter, a sum of Rs. 4,000/- deserves to be awarded to the claimant towards medical expenses, transportation special diet and other incidental expenses. In other words, the total compensation payable to the claimant deserves to the enhanced to Rs. 15,000/-.

25. Finally, there is a case of Manjit Singh Aujla. In his case, enhanced compensation was sought only under the head of pain and suffering and the permanent disability that he suffered on account of the injuries sustained.

26. According to PW 16, Dr. Jaswant Rai of the Department of Surgery and Ortheopaedic of the PGI Chandigarh, on his admission in the Emergency Department of the PGI on May 24, 1976, he found that Manjit Singh had a compound fracture of both bones, that is, tibia and the fibula of the left leg. There was a 2 inches long wound in the Middle of the left chin with a belly of muscle protruding out through the bone. He was operated on the same day and open reduction of the bones was also done. He was confined to bed until his discharge from the hospital on June 11, 1976. He was discharged with plaster. A part of the plaster was removed on July 23, 1976 which was again restored after removing stitches. The plaster was eventually removed on September 3, 1976 but a discharge was noted from the wound on that date.

27. The other doctor to attend upon the claimant Manjit Singh was PW 15 Dr. Dalbir Singh, Registrar of the Orthopaedic Department, Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, who deposed that he examined the patient on September 6, 1976 when he complained of pain in left leg. He was admitted in the hospital for an operation on November 15, 1976 and was discharged after operation two days lates. He was last examined on November 18, 1977 when he was declared fit to resume duty. He also deposed to shortening of the leg by 3/4th of an inch and that he had suffered a permanent disability of 15 to 20 per cent regarding the functioning of his left leg.

28. Medical evidence also shows that Manjit Singh required a long period of confinement in bed and special diet.

29. Keeping in view the nature and extent of the injuries suffered and the loss of amenities of life caused to him thereby as also the permanent disability that he is now left with, compensation payable to him on these accounts amply deserves to be enhanced to Rs. 25,000/-. The total compensation thus payable to thus payable to this claimant works out to Rs. 42,860/-which may be rounded of to Rs. 43,000/-.

30. The compensation payable to the claimant Chander Kumar Pahwa is accordingly hereby enhanced to Rs. 2,00,000/-; that payable to the claimant N.K. Nanda to Rs. 15,000/- and in the case of Manjit Singh Aujla to Rs. 43,000/-.

31. The compensation payable to the claimants shall be paid to them along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of the application to the date of the payment of the amount awarded.

32. In the result, the appeals filed by the State of Haryana, are hereby dismissed while those filed by the claimants Chander Kumar Pahwa and N.K. Nanda are accepted as also the cross-objections filed by the claimant Manjit Singh Aujla The claimants shall be entitled to their costs in all these appeals. Counsel fee Rs. 300/-.


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