The highest monetary compensation will not rebuild his life, observed the Bombay high court while enhancing compensation to over Rs 1 crore for a man who was left paraplegic after sustaining multiple injuries in a November 2004 road accident.
“Monetary compensation howsoever high cannot rebuild the life of the victim or reduce his physical or mental trauma. It cannot restore the shattered dreams of the spouse, bring back lost childhood of the children or relieve the agony of the parents of seeing their child in a vegetative state,” said Justice Anuja Prabhudessai in her September 19 verdict, allowing the 2012 appeal of Yogesh Panchal, who was 26 years old at the time of the accident.
He suffered 100 per cent permanent disability after a dumper dashed the rear side of his motorcycle. In 2009, Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal awarded him Rs 48 lakh compensation with 7.5 % interest. Justice Prabhudessai enhanced it to Rs 64 lakh. She excluded Rs 23 lakh for future expenditure and directed that he is entitled to 7.5% interest on over Rs 41 lakh from the date of claim application (in 2005) till final realisation. She dismissed the appeal of The Oriental Insurance Co Ltd.
Panchal worked as a metal cutter earning Rs 1.70 lakh yearly. After his accident, he underwent several surgeries, including stem cell therapy and a spine stabilisation procedure, and incurred huge medical expenses. He is totally bed-ridden and dependent on others.
The judge noted that paraplegia, which is a form of paralysis of the lower body, impairs physical, mental and psychological health, and has devastating impact on social and financial well being of the victim
It also impacts the marital life of the spouse, who inevitably becomes the main caretaker, deprives children of guidance and affection of the parent and puts infirm parents in a helpless situation.
Observing that Panchal “is wheelchair bound for life,” Justice Prabhudessai said the object of the Motor Vehicle Act is to provide much-needed financial stability to the victim and the family to navigate the change with minimal trauma. While enhancing compensation, she cited a Supreme Court judgment that ‘if courts nit-pick and award niggardly amounts oblivious of these circumstances, there is resultant affront to the injured victim’.