Insurer off the hook if victim responsible for mishap: HC

An insurance company cannot be held liable to compensate a road mishap victim or his family if the accident takes place because of his negligence, the Delhi High Court has ruled.

If the accident takes place because of the ‘wrongful act’, ‘neglect’ or ‘default’ of the mishap victim himself, he is not entitled to any compensation from the owner or insurer of the vehicle involved in the accident, Justice G P Mittal said.

The court said, ‘An insurance firm indemnifies the owner on the basis of the contract of insurance where a third party is involved...Where the owner himself is a tortfeasor (an individual who commits a wrongful act that injures another), he cannot claim compensation from his own insurer for a third party policy. It is thus obvious that in the absence of any contract for insurance, the appellant insurance company was not liable to pay any compensation...’.

The court’s observations came in a judgement on an appeal by New India Insurance Co Ltd against a Motor Accident Claim Tribunal’s verdict. The tribunal had asked the insurance firm to pay Rs 4.20 lakh as compensation to the family members of one Deepak Jain who had received fatal injuries in an accident on February 5, 2002 near Azadpur here while driving his father’s two-wheeler.

Setting aside the verdict, Justice Mittal said the FIR alleged the victim was driving rashly and his scooter hit a woman, who survived with minor injuries, in the accident and he also received fatal injuries.

The family members of the victim did not produce any evidence to show that there was failure of brakes, the court said. The high court allowed the appeal of the insurance firm saying ‘the compensation amount deposited by the appellant insurance company with the tribunal shall be refunded along with interest accrued, if any, during the pendency of the appeal.’

During the hearing, the insurance company had said no evidence was produced to prove that the accident took place because of the failure of brakes and moreover, it did not ‘cover the risk of the driver of the two wheeler.
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