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Motor Accidents Claim: Violation Of Law By Itself Cannot Lead To A Finding Of Contributory Negligence: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
14 Jan 2020 12:10 PM GMT
Motor Accidents Claim: Violation Of Law By Itself Cannot Lead To A Finding Of Contributory Negligence: SC [Read Judgment]

"It is in such cases, where, but for the violation of the law, either the accident could have been averted or the impact could have been minimized, that the principle of contributory negligence could be invoked."

The Supreme Court has held that violation of law by itself, without anything more, cannot lead to a finding of contributory negligence while considering claim petitions filed in Motor Accident Cases.

The bench of Justice NV Ramana and Justice V. Ramasubramanian observed that there must either be a causal connection between the violation and the accident or a causal connection between the violation and the impact of the accident upon the victim

In this case, deceased and another person were travelling in a motor cycle as pillion riders. The car hit the motorcycle from behind. The High Court held that the accident was caused by the rash and negligent driving of the car, but also added that 3 persons on a motorcycle could have added to the imbalance and therefore there was contributory vehicle on the part of the deceased.

Disagreeing with this view, the Apex Court bench observed that the fact that the deceased was riding on a motor cycle along with the driver and another, may not, by itself, without anything more, make him guilty of contributory negligence. It added that fact that a person was a pillion rider on a motor cycle along with the driver and one more person on the pillion, may be a violation of the law. It observed thus

But such violation by itself, without anything more, cannot lead to a finding of contributory negligence, unless it is established that his very act of riding along with two others, contributed either to the accident or to the impact of the accident upon the victim. There must either be a causal connection between the violation and the accident or a causal connection between the violation and the impact of the accident upon the victim. It may so happen at times, that the accident could have been averted or the injuries sustained could have been of a lesser degree, if there had been no violation of the law by the victim. What could otherwise have resulted in a simple injury, might have resulted in a grievous injury or even death due to the violation of the law by the victim. It is in such cases, where, but for the violation of the law, either the accident could have been averted or the impact could have been minimized, that the principle of contributory negligence could be invoked.

The court noted that there was no evidence to show that the wrongful act on the part of the deceased victim contributed either to the accident or to the nature of the injuries sustained. It observed:

It is not the case of the insurer that the accident itself occurred as a result of three persons riding on a motor cycle. It is not even the case of the insurer that the accident would have been averted, if three persons were not riding on the motor cycle. The fact that the motor cycle was hit by the car from 7 behind, is admitted. Interestingly, the finding recorded by the Tribunal that the deceased was wearing a helmet and that the deceased was knocked down after the car hit the motor cycle from behind, are all not assailed. Therefore, the finding of the High Court that 2 persons on the pillion of the motor cycle, could have added to the imbalance, is nothing but presumptuous and is not based either upon pleading or upon the evidence on record.


Case name: MOHAMMED SIDDIQUE vs. NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY LTD
Case No.: CIVIL APPEAL No.79 OF 2020
Coram:Justice NV Ramana and Justice V. Ramasubramanian

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