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Kerala State Road Transport Corpn. Vs. C. Soman Nadar and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Motor Vehicles
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported inII(1984)ACC126
AppellantKerala State Road Transport Corpn.
RespondentC. Soman Nadar and anr.
Cases ReferredNance v. British Columbia Electric Railway Co. Ltd.
Excerpt:
- - he saw the plaintiff driver badly injured and almost in an unconscious state. these may not be good reasons for rejecting the evidence of pw 7. the court below has rightly accepted his evidence. he is the sad victim in the unfortunate episode. this claim, also has for good reasons been rejected by the lower court in paragraph 20 of its judgment. in that view no enhancement is called for on this count as well......has accepted the case of the plaintiff that he was earning an income of rs. 300/- per month as a driver. the accident took place on 8-2-1973. the plaintiff was examined on 5-3-1979. 6 years and 27 days elapsed on that date and therefore the plaintiff was awarded rs. 21,870/- towards loss of earnings calculated on that basis. rightly, the learned counsel for the appellant did not raise any dispute regarding quantum of compensation awarded when it is based on the income of the plaintiff at rs. 300/- per month. his only complaint was that the estimate of the monthly income was a little high. it cannot be said that the plaintiff has claimed an exaggerated amount when he stated that he was earning per month rs. 300/- as driver.5. the second ground on which compensation was granted is for.....
Judgment:

Bhaskaran Nambiar, J.

1. The first defendant, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, is the appellant. The plaintiff, a car driver was involved in a motor accident, he was seriously injured, his leg had to be amputated and he was permanently handicapped and became practically a cripple in life. He filed a suit for compensation claiming two lakhs rupees alleging negligence of the 3rd defendant, driver, employed by the Corporation. He estimated the loss at the average rate of Rs. 400/- per mensem for prespective damages and claimed Rs. 1,72,800 on that account and Rs. 28,200/- for his personal sufferings including pain, loss of enjoyment and expectation of life. He also stated that he was entitled to be reimbursed for medical expenses. The court below granted him a decree for Rs. 80,070/- and the Corporation, aggrieved, has filed this appeal. The plaintiff has also filed a cross appeal.

2. The accident occurred on 8-2-1973 at 9 A.M. The plaintiff, a taxi driver was driving his car No. KLT 3630 going from west to east along the Venganoor Thiruvallam road. A bus KLT 1187 driven by the third respondent, the driver of the Corporation came from the opposite direction. The plaintiff's allegation was that he was keeping the correct side of the road while the third defendant, driving the bus rashly and on the wrong side of the road, hit his car and also grievously injured him. Evidence was taken by the lower court. The main witness to prove the incident on behalf of the plaintiff is the plaintiff himself, PW 1 and PW 7, a shopkeeper who witnessed the incident. On behalf of the defendants the third defendant was examined as DW 1.

3. We have been taken through the evidence of PW 1 and PW 7 as also that of DW 1. Admittedly there was a collision between the bus and the taxi on 8-2-1973. PW 7 is a beedi roller who was in the pan shop on the side of the road. He says that he heard the horn of the taxi and saw the car coming slowly along the northern side of the road. He also saw the bus coming at hectic speed from the opposite direction on the wrong side and it dashed against the car and damaged the front portion including the radiator, bumper and the front door. He saw the plaintiff driver badly injured and almost in an unconscious state. People rushed to the scene and removed the driver from the car and he was taken to the hospital. The driver of the bus, meanwhile ran away. This in short is the evidence of PW 7. His version seems to be natural and acceptable to reason and common sense. The cross examination has not affected the veracity of his evidence. It is contended that he was not a witness to the mahazar prepared by the police after the accident and that other witnesses in the locality have not come forward to give evidence on behalf of the plaintiff. These may not be good reasons for rejecting the evidence of PW 7. The court below has rightly accepted his evidence. His evidence is corroborated by the evidence of PW 1, the driver of the taxi car. He is the sad victim in the unfortunate episode. The fact that he was keeping the correct side of the road is clear from the evidence of PW 7 also. While DW 1 says that he was also keeping his side of the road, he has stated that when the accident occurred, the bus was on the middle of the road. This could have happened only if he has come to the wrong side of the road. Even the evidence of DW 1 to some extent probabilises the version of PW 7 has to be accepted in preference to the interested testimony of DW 1 unaided by any corroboration. We therefore agree with the trial court that on the evidence of PWs 1 and 7 it has to be held that the third defendant driver who was employed by the Corporation was negligent in his driving and drove the vehicle rashly and thus caused grievous injury to the plaintiff. The plaintiff is thus entitled to damages claimed.

4. The next question is regarding the quantum of compensation. The lower court has, granted. Rs. 21,8,70/- towards loss of earnings till the date of trial of the the suit on 5-3-1979. He has accepted the case of the plaintiff that he was earning an income of Rs. 300/- per month as a driver. The accident took place on 8-2-1973. The plaintiff was examined on 5-3-1979. 6 years and 27 days elapsed on that date and therefore the plaintiff was awarded Rs. 21,870/- towards loss of earnings calculated on that basis. Rightly, the learned Counsel for the appellant did not raise any dispute regarding quantum of compensation awarded when it is based on the income of the plaintiff at Rs. 300/- per month. His only complaint was that the estimate of the monthly income was a little high. It cannot be said that the plaintiff has claimed an exaggerated amount when he stated that he was earning per month Rs. 300/- as driver.

5. The second ground on which compensation was granted is for loss of future earning. The lower court found that at the time of the accident the plaintiff was about 25 years of age. Though the plaintiff stated that he could have continued to be a driver upto the age of 60 years, the lower court has noted that the retirement age was 55 and that the plaintiff could have worked till the age of 55. In the normal case the plaintiff would have been entitled to the increment and even promotions if he was appointed in the Board itself. The court found that it would be fair if the multiple to be adopted for arriving at the compensation for future of earnings of the plaintiff was fixed at 12 times and on that basis the compensation on this Court was fixed as Rs. 43,200/-.

6. It has been held by this Court in the decision in State of Kerala v. Vijayakumaran Nair 1982 K.L.T. 393, following the Privy Council ruling in Nance v. British Columbia Electric Railway Co. Ltd. 1951 A.C. 601 that the reversal of the trial Judge's findings on the amount of damages can be made only if the amount awarded was extremely high or that the lower court acted upon some wrong principle of law. It is not argued before us that there has been a wrong application of any known principle of law in the fixation of the quantum of compensation by the lower court. Nor can we hold that the amount claimed is exorbitant. Considering the age of the plaintiff at the time of the accident, his income which he was earning at that time and the normal period during which he could have continued in useful employment as a car driver if he had not been the victim to this incident, the compensation fixed is reasonable and just.

7. The last ground urged by the appellant was that the lower court has granted 6 per cent interest from the date of suit even though, while fixing the compensation of Rs. 21,870/-, the lower court has taken into consideration the circumstances existing from 8-2-1973 to 5-3-1979 when the suit was filed only on 20-3-1975. The corporation has not paid the amount to the plaintiff. They are not justified in now disputing the interest awarded. The plaintiff was entitled to get interest on the amount of compensation from the date of the accident; the lower court has awarded interest only from the date of suit. This contention has also to be rejected. In the result the appeal filed by the Corporation is dismissed with costs of the first respondent plaintiff.

8. The plaintiff has filed a cross appeal. He says that he is entitled to an enhancement of Rs. 14,200/- on four counts. He claims Rs. 3000/- towards medical expenses. The lower court has in paragraph 19 considerated this aspect. PW 4 an ayurvedic physician who seems to have treated the plaintiff has stated that medicines for Rs. 1000/- were purchased from him for the plaintiff. But considering the nature of the injury and the length of the period of treatment required, the court below fixed Rs. 2000/- as reasonable medical expenses. Even then, the court below did not grant a decree on the ground that there was no specific plea in the plaint. In the plaint in paragraph 11 the plaintiff has stated that he has incurred pecuniary loss by way of medical expenses. This is a case where one leg of the plaintiff had to be amputated. He was rushed to the hospital immediately after the accident. Naturally he would have incurred substantial medical expenses. He has made a claim under that head even though he had not specified the amount in the plaint. We think in the interests of justice that the plaintiff should be given compensation for medical expenses incurred by him. The court below has fixed at Rs. 2000/- for medical expenses and in the circumstances of the case we accept that finding and hold that the plaintiff is entitled to Rs. 2000/- towards medical expenses.

9. The plaintiff had also claimed Rs. 2000/- towards the cost of conveyance. The lower court has rightly rejected that claim in paragraph 19 of the judgment on the ground that the evidence of PW 8 cannot be accepted in the absence of any supporting voucher. We agree with the reasoning and reject this contention.

10. The next claim is for Rs. 2000/- on the ground that the plaintiff has to maintain an ayah as he is permanently incapacitated. This claim, also has for good reasons been rejected by the lower court in paragraph 20 of its judgment. Even when PW 1 was examined he did not state that there was any service rendered by PW 6. The evidence of PW 6 was rightly rejected as unbelievable. The plaintiff is not entitled to any amount, on this account. Lastly he said that he is entitled to an additional Rs. 7,200/- for loss of his earnings. The court fixed Rs. 42,200/- for the loss of future earnings. We have found that this amount is reasonable. In that view no enhancement is called for on this count as well.

11. The cross appeal is therefore allowed by giving a decree to the plaintiff for an additional amount of Rs. 2000/- over the amount already decreed by the lower court with interest at 6 per cent from the date of the suit. The plaintiff will be entitled to his costs in this appeal.


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