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Old 18th May 2011, 11:06   #1
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Default Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

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The owner of a vehicle is liable to pay compensation for the accident if the vehicle is driven by a minor, the Supreme Court has ruled, upholding the compensation of over Rs eight lakh to the family of a man who died in a road mishap.
The apex court said it was the duty of the vehicle-owner to ensure that it was not misused or used in contravention of the rules.
A bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph rejected the plea of the owner Jawahar Singh that his minor nephew had taken away the key of the motorcycle without his knowledge and as such he cannot be held responsible.
“We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that it was Jatin, who came on the motorcycle and hit the scooter of the deceased from behind. The responsibility of causing the accident was, therefore, found to be solely that of Jatin.
Hope this would dissuade atleast some parents from handing over the keys to teenagers!

Last edited by GTO : 18th May 2011 at 14:44. Reason: Please only include an excerpt, and a link back to credit the actual web page where the article was sourced from
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Old 18th May 2011, 13:30   #2
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

I agree to this judgment. It would go a long way in bringing some sense to our people.
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Old 18th May 2011, 13:48   #3
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

This could be effective in cases where parents allow their minor children to drive their vehicles.

But what happens if a minor steals someone's vehicle and causes a death while driving it? It seems a little unfair to penalise the owner in such a case.

That is what seems to have happened here, according to the vehicle owner who says his nephew stole the bike key and took the bike out. But because the guy was related to the vehicle owner the court seems to have found the vehicle owner to be negligent.

Last edited by straightdrive : 18th May 2011 at 13:50.
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Old 18th May 2011, 13:50   #4
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

Thats a real grey area. If the court exempts such owners whose vehicles were "stolen" by teenagers, then every accident would be a case of teenage theft!

Last edited by GTO : 19th May 2011 at 11:01. Reason: Correcting spellings. Please PROOF-READ before hitting that post submit button
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Old 18th May 2011, 13:57   #5
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

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Originally Posted by straightdrive View Post
This could be effective in cases where parents allow their minor children to drive their vehicles.

But what happens if a minor steals someone's vehicle and causes a death while driving it? It seems a little unfair to penalise the owner in such a case.

That is what seems to have happened here, according to the vehicle owner who says his nephew stole the bike key and took the bike out. But because the guy was related to the vehicle owner the court seems to have found the vehicle owner to be negligent.
so then the buck should pass with the owner initiating charges for stealing the bike.
if his nephew has "stolen" the bike, lodge an FIR!
(EDIT:this is all post the owners liability to pay for damage/death)

on the other hand,
I am sure that the SC will have considered circumstances, where the owner found one day that his bike/car was stolen, and 15 days later hears about a death due to his vehicle, and the police find a minor riding it.
Quite sure the owner wouldnt be charged for it.

Last edited by mayankk : 18th May 2011 at 14:09.
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Old 18th May 2011, 13:59   #6
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

And if someone registers such a case, that would again be one for the Juvenile courts!
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Old 18th May 2011, 14:00   #7
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

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Originally Posted by cooljai View Post
The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal at Karkardooma awarded the deceased family a compensation of Rs 8,35,067 along with 7 per cent interest.
The insurer National Insurance Company Ltd was held liable to pay the award and to recover the amount from the owner of the motorcycle Jawahar Singh.
I thought if we have the 3rd party insurance [which is a must] will be taking care of this. Is this only for this specific case since it was proven to be the owners negligence?
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Old 18th May 2011, 14:04   #8
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

I Guess its for this specific case. The Supreme court may not have wanted the victims family to wait anymore for the compensation to be paid out.
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Old 18th May 2011, 14:05   #9
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

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Originally Posted by mjothi View Post
I thought if we have the 3rd party insurance [which is a must] will be taking care of this. Is this only for this specific case since it was proven to be the owners negligence?
If a minor, i.e. an unauthorized person is riding the bike. The Insurance company are off the hook a long while back.
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Old 18th May 2011, 14:10   #10
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

My understanding was insured vehicle must be used by owner/driver with a valid licence. Else the insurance company can reject the claims.

Here it was a minor, so insurance company can reject the claim and support their case in court, making the owner solely responsible for the negligence and the accident.

I am curious why SC asked insurance to pay out and claim from the owner rather instructing the owner to pay out directly?
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Old 18th May 2011, 14:11   #11
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

I agree this will help serve as an indicator for most vehicle owners to ensure that their vehicle is not within easy reach of minors. I also see some other impacts:
- Vehicle owners should be more wary of lending their vehicles to other friends/ acquaintances and ensure they are 'authorised' and able to ride the vehicle in question
- Vehicles should be maintained in decent and driveable condition to ensure they perform as intended
- Drivers should be alert and in control of their vehicles; hopefully there should be exemplary punishment for drunk/ rash drivers too

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Originally Posted by laluks View Post
I am curious why SC asked insurance to pay out and claim from the owner rather instructing the owner to pay out directly?
While I am unaware of the reason for this point, I think at least the victim's family will be compensated (I hope) in a timely manner. Otherwise there could have been a possibility that the person may have been unable to pay such an amount at short notice. I am sure the insurance company will be able to recover the money through their means/ resources

Last edited by selfdrive : 18th May 2011 at 14:15.
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Old 18th May 2011, 14:12   #12
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

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Originally Posted by laluks View Post
I am curious why SC asked insurance to pay out and claim from the owner rather instructing the owner to pay out directly?
Good question.

May be they know an insurance company "will make sure" they collect it in their own way
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Old 18th May 2011, 14:14   #13
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

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Originally Posted by straightdrive View Post
But what happens if a minor steals someone's vehicle and causes a death while driving it? It seems a little unfair to penalise the owner in such a case.
In case of vehicle theft, the owner should file an FIR. After filing FIR, owner would not be responsible for misuse of vehicle.

Rohan
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Old 18th May 2011, 14:17   #14
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

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Originally Posted by laluks View Post
I am curious why SC asked insurance to pay out and claim from the owner rather instructing the owner to pay out directly?
Because when it comes to third party claims the Insurance company fights out the case and not the owner.

The case must have been lodged by the insurance company over the compensation requested and it then came to this.
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Old 18th May 2011, 15:14   #15
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Default Re: Owner liable if minor is involved in accident: Supreme Court

Kids and teenagers are prone to sneak on adults when they are napping or not at home. In this case its not the owners son but a nephew. Why should the nephews Dad not face the crunch? What are the legal hurdles?

I hope uncle is going the compensate the owner.

--Ragul
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