Court ordered insurance company to pay Rs 1.25 crore compensation to the victim’s family

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Makarand Patwardhan died in a car crash on October 25, 2010, while travelling from Pune to Mumbai. According to a PTI report, the driver was speeding when the tyre of his vehicle burst, causing the spin out of control and crash into a ditch.

The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal directed the New India Assurance Company (NIACL) to pay Rs 1.25 crore in compensation to the family of the victim. The government-owned insurance company had moved the Bombay High Court against a ruling of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. NIACL said that it was an ‘Act of God‘ and thus claim can’t be provided.

The Bombay High Court has denied a plea by New India Assurance Company evoking the ‘Act of God’ clause to deny compensation the family of a man who died in a car accident.

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The company argued that the compensation amount was excessive, seeking to convince the court that the tyre burst was an ‘Act of God’ and did not occur due to human negligence. Events covered under the ‘Act of God’ clause are not usually not covered by insurance companies.

Interpreting the meaning of ‘Act of God’, the single-judge bench said it pertains to incidents that occur as “an instance of uncontrollable natural forces in operation.”

“It refers to a severe unanticipated natural event for which no human is responsible. The bursting of a tyre cannot be termed an act of God. It is an act of human negligence,” the court said. The court further added that reasons for tire burst could range from high speed, tyre pressure, and age of tyre to temperature.

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The driver has to check the condition of tyre before travelling. The event of the bursting of tyre cannot be dubbed a natural act. It is due to human negligence, the court added.

The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal in its ruling recognised that Patwardhan was the sole bread winner of his family and asked the insurance company to pay the compensation. The court’s decision is a reminder of the need for greater awareness and responsibility among vehicle owners and insurers, in order to ensure safety on the roads and protect the rights of accident victims.

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