Read Judgment: Sri. Benson George V. Reliance General Insurance Co. Ltd. & Anr. 

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, February 28, 2022: Considering the fact that the claimant, who was a victim of a vehicular accident, had been in coma even after a period of eight long years and had to be permanently bedridden during his entire life, the Supreme Court has opined that if the amount of compensation under the head of pain, shock and suffering is enhanced to Rs. 10 lakhs, then it can be said to be a reasonable amount of compensation. 

A Division Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V Nagarathna observed that pain, suffering and trauma suffered by the claimant cannot be compensated in terms of the money, however, still it will be a solace to award suitable compensation under different heads including the pain, shock and suffering, loss of amenities and happiness of life.

Going by the background of the case, Benson George (claimant), aged 29 years and working as a Process Supervisor in Deutsche Bank and earning Rs.4,59,425/- per annum, had sustained grievous brain injuries in a vehicular accident and underwent brain surgery. Though he was discharged from the Hospital, he remained in coma even till the claim petition was filed through his mother before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT), which awarded Rs.94,37,300/- on the different heads and also awarded interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of petition till realization.

Not satisfied, the Insurance Company as well as the original claimant approached the High Court, which party allowed the appeal preferred by the claimant and enhanced the amount of compensation from 94,37,300/- to Rs.1,24,94,333/- under different heads. The High Court however, reduced the interest from 9% per annum as awarded by the Tribunal to the interest at the rate of 6% per annum.

After considering the submissions, the Top Court found that in the vehicular accident the claimant sustained grievous brain injuries and was hospitalized for a number of months and had undergone MRI, CT scans and Xrays.

He sustained right temporal SDH, multiple hemorrhagic contusions on temporal lobe, left parietooccipital lobe, left parietal lobe and bilateral frontal lobe, hemorrhagic contusions left thalamic region s/o grade II diffuse axonal injury, moderate SAH in right sylvian cistern, moderate diffuse cerebral edema, multiple comminuted and variably depressed fracture in left squamous temporal and left parietal bone, bilateral occipital bone fracture, right suboccipital SDH. Finally diagnosed that traumatic brain injury sequelaes/p frontotemporoparietal hemicraniectomy and right lower limb deep vein thrombosis”, noted the Court.

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Shah further noted that the claimant underwent multiple brain surgeries and was still in coma and totally bedridden. 

While opining that there cannot be a straight jacket formula for deciding the amount of compensation to be awarded under the heads, pain and suffering and loss of amenities and happiness, Justice Shah highlighted that multiple factors are required to be considered namely, prolonged hospitalization; the grievous injuries sustained; the operations underwent and the consequent pain, discomfort and suffering.

Similarly, loss of amenities and happiness suffered by the claimant and his family members also depend upon various factors, including the position of the claimant post-accident and whether he is in a position to enjoy life and/or happiness which he was enjoying prior to the accident, added the Bench. 

Accordingly, the Apex Court partly allowed the appeal and modified the order passed by the High Court, holding that the original claimant shall be entitled to a total sum of Rs.1,41,94,333/- with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of filing the claim petition till realization.

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