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Old 29th September 2018, 18:11   #1
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Default My son's accident - Who is really at fault?

Recounting an accident and subsequent updates:

About two years ago, in end October 2016, the son aged 20 years, with a valid licence and all statutory vehicle documents in place, driving a six and half year old scooter, wearing a helmet, met with an accident; on an undivided fairly smooth 80+ft carriageway, not a major road at that time, sparse traffic throughout the day at about 10.30 a.m.

Riding at about 50-60 kmph, the scooter could really not go much faster, he encountered a tractor with a small water tanker trailer, driving in the right lane of the onward carriageway. The vehicle was going much slower than his speed and observing that there were no vehicles on the return carriageway, moved to the right to overtake the vehicle.

As soon as he came abreast of the tractor-tanker, he saw another tractor-tanker just ahead of it and in a split second, the lead tractor-tanker turned right to take a u-turn. Presumably and on instinct, he must have veered to the right to avoid an accident. He recollects that there was no time to brake and in that action hit the front section of the lead tractor-tanker. The impact threw him further right and he landed up on the road in the middle of the left most lane on the return carriageway.

The son was able to give my mobile number to a kind bystander, who called me and I was able to reach the site within ten minutes of the call. Saw the son flat on his back, legs apart, hands by his side, bare faced (helmet was removed by bystanders), badly damaged scooter on its side a little further and a flock of bystanders surrounding him. This scene will never ever leave my memory!

Reached him, confirmed my presence to him, checked with bystanders if ambulance had been called and understood that it was done about 20 minutes ago. Turned my attention to the son and assured him that ambulance is on its way and started my check to see what was wrong. He could see, but had closed his eyes because of the sun blaring on his face. Some abrasions and blood on his face, did not look very serious. The pant on his right knee was torn and there was some blood around.

When he confirmed that he cannot move, checked which parts were a problem, said that there is something definitely wrong with his shoulder and also his leg. Head was aching terribly. Didn't think that he had lost consciousness after the impact. Confirmed that the head seemed ok.

Since ambulance had not yet arrived, took the decision to call the prestigious private hospital about a kilometre and half away to dispatch theirs. Continued to comfort the son, shielded him from the sun and waited. Said private hospital ambulance arrived first. Professionally, they moved him to a stretcher and loaded it onto the ambulance and took off. Bystanders had handed over his bag, wallet, mobile etc.

Emergency section of the hospital geared itself up quickly, cutting through the clothes, checking on the wounds and talking to him continuously. He was in tremendous pain and I kept flitting in and out from next to him, letting him know that I am around. X-rays were the next step and this was done with some difficulty as moving him to the X-ray table from the stretcher was an exercise by itself (six people holding on to four ends of the sheet on the stretcher, plus two in the middle - lifted off the stretcher and placed on the x-ray table).

About one and half hours after reaching the hospital, registration fee paid, file opened, money deposited, emergency doctors examined, some basic bandaging done, x-ray was checked to find that the thigh bone was broken into two and splintered, knee cap and bone had some fracture and shavings, collar bone had fractured. Apparently nothing to the head other than some facial wounds and no concussions.

The ortho said we can operate only tomorrow morning, so he was moved to the wards, and propped up with painkillers and anti-biotics. The rest of the day and night passed in a painful daze for him, coming to life only when he had his friends who came around to comfort and spend some time.

Next day operation lasted for quite some time. Rod inserted for the thigh bone, knee cap repaired, some muscle portion restitched and sewn up, collar bone left to heal by itself, two screws in the knee bone to hold it together and post recuperation was brought back to the ward. The next few days were once again spent with some good amount of pain, inability to stand and the anxiety of what is the future for him, trauma from the accident itself and some myriad thoughts.

In the meanwhile the cops who had been alerted, came to take his statement. They had already visited the accident site and the bystanders having noted the tractor-tanker number, the same was relayed to the cops. At the left side of the return carriageway, where the accident took place there is a water filling point and the tractor-tankers were intending to park there for filling. The police confirmed that there was no indicator lights on the tanker trailer and that they have the driver under custody and all the vehicles documents (registration, insurance, driver's licence).

It took the son, one month to start walking with crutches, some acrobatics and heavy lifting from our side to move him on to a wheelchair now and again in the interim period, and three months to move away from the crutches. For the next four to five months he was walking with a pronounced limp. Normalcy returned slowly and he is now as fit as he can be.

Case filed against the driver, compensation sought from the vehicle's insurer and now being settled. Scooter a complete write off. Case is in court and as I, the person who filed the complaint and the son as defendant, have appeared in the metropolitan magistrate's court as witnesses once, when the accused did not turn up, next date awaited.

The question here is, who (all) is really at fault?
  1. The driver for taking a u-turn in the middle of the carriageway without any prior indication?
  2. The road authorities for not having a median and designated sections for taking legitimate turns (especially on such a wide carriageway)?
  3. Planning authorities who plan and sanction such roads?
  4. Tanker manufacturer for not having indicator lights on the trailer?
  5. RTO for allowing such trailers on the road and not booking them?
  6. Tractor-Tanker Owner for flouting safety norms and ensuring that the drivers follow safe driving practices?
  7. The system itself which allows untrained drivers on the road?
  8. Local / Central Government?
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Old 30th September 2018, 09:55   #2
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Default re: My son's accident - Who is really at fault?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pariwar View Post
The question here is, who (all) is really at fault?
  1. The driver for taking a u-turn in the middle of the carriageway without any prior indication?
  2. The road authorities for not having a median and designated sections for taking legitimate turns (especially on such a wide carriageway)?
  3. Planning authorities who plan and sanction such roads?
  4. Tanker manufacturer for not having indicator lights on the trailer?
  5. RTO for allowing such trailers on the road and not booking them?
  6. Tractor-Tanker Owner for flouting safety norms and ensuring that the drivers follow safe driving practices?
  7. The system itself which allows untrained drivers on the road?
  8. Local / Central Government?
I am sorry to hear about the whole incident and glad that your son came out of the whole thing with treatable injuries.

I hope its a rhetorical question that you are asking here, because we all know the right answer. Its a combination of each of the above listed points. The manufacturer, government, RTO, Cops, owner, driver of the tanker and even the government hospital Ambulance which you haven't mentioned above. What if it was a more serious injury/internal bleeding, head injury etc. where a delay in diagnosis and treatment would have caused more serious damage.

In the end I can only say this much that none of the above are going to improve in the near future, for lack of will and resources alike. What we can change is probably that we can be more vigilant while driving and be on a constant look out for the next surprise/trap that is laid out for us via the combined nexus of all of the above mentioned entities.
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Old 30th September 2018, 12:20   #3
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Default re: My son's accident - Who is really at fault?

Sorry to say but as drmohitg mentioned all are culprits here to some extent. After reading the whole tragic incident and specifically your question I remember a movie where same topic was highlighted. The movie name was Aparichit where the main lead held responsible all the departments who were behind an accident where his sister died while coming back from school.
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Old 30th September 2018, 18:54   #4
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Default re: My son's accident - Who is really at fault?

Dear Pariwar - Who is REALLY at fault here, is:
1. Of course the government at various levels, and through it's various bodies, and
2. Us, for continuing to live with such governance, without getting the collective will to make such changes happen.

We are all at fault. :(
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Old 1st October 2018, 08:59   #5
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Default Re: My son's accident - Who is really at fault?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pariwar View Post
The question here is, who (all) is really at fault?
  1. The driver for taking a u-turn in the middle of the carriageway without any prior indication?
  2. The road authorities for not having a median and designated sections for taking legitimate turns (especially on such a wide carriageway)?
  3. Planning authorities who plan and sanction such roads?
  4. Tanker manufacturer for not having indicator lights on the trailer?
  5. RTO for allowing such trailers on the road and not booking them?
  6. Tractor-Tanker Owner for flouting safety norms and ensuring that the drivers follow safe driving practices?
  7. The system itself which allows untrained drivers on the road?
  8. Local / Central Government?
Very sorry to hear this and glad that he is able to walk now and fit. I know how this situation would have been because my close friend had the same kind of accident and he is still walking with little limping.

As people told above, everyone is responsible sir. I hardly think the court will give answers to all these questions. Things are changing but in very very slow pace. It will take decades and decades to change. I suggest you to resolve the matter amicably in Lok Adalat if possible and get the maximum compensation out of this.

[ Mods - Please edit if you think it is violation] I used to think things will change once my generation people come into these jobs. To be frank, my friends who are in these positions from top level to bottom level in public sector are unable to do anything because of the pressure from their higher officials and politicians . They are keeping their hands clean to maximum level. But very difficult to withstand the pressure from higher officials. After all they are also humans and they have families who are dependent on them.
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Old 1st October 2018, 09:08   #6
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Default Re: My son's accident - Who is really at fault?

Not very familiar with the judicial proceedings, but have you tried approaching the Motor Accidents Tribunal?

As someone has already mentioned above, there are more than one factor that's wrong. One must be aware of the deficiencies in the society and protect oneself as best as one can.
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Old 1st October 2018, 09:23   #7
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Default Re: My son's accident - Who is really at fault?

First of all, let me mention that I'm glad your son has recuperated from such an accident. I'm positive the helmet played a vital role.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pariwar View Post
The question here is, who (all) is really at fault?
Now, this question has a pretty bitter answer. Let me apologise in advance if I come out hard, but the sad truth is, it is no one, except us, who is responsible for such accidents. The trend of letting the buck pass is what has caused this. The tractor drivers are clearly at fault in case of your son's accident, but overall, the 'chalta hai' attitude is the cause.

Let me share an example. When I go for a cycle ride at 5.30 am in the morning, the signals are working, but I'm in 2 minds - should I wait for it to turn green and possibly get hit from behind by a speeding motorist or risk jumping the signal?

Unless traffic rules are taught to children quite early on, our country will never end up with good motorists. Combined with the lack of enforcement, the situation is bleak. Cops too tend to have a pretty lacklustre attitude. A 3-way junction near my home is so bad that I have started taking a detour to avoid it completely if possible. The rule abiders are caught between a precarious situation. Few years ago, I used to stop signal breakers, wrong side drivers and bikers going on footpath, but today I avoid as you never know if they will start physically hitting you, so I simply ignore them. I have recently got a dash cam and will be combining most footage of bad drivers and sending it to the authorities. I don't expect anything out of it, but maybe it would wake somebody up (cops, authorities or the bad drivers...).

My takes from this if I were in your shoes:
1. All drivers out there are bad drivers
2. ATGATT (All the gear all the time) even if on a 100 cc scooter.
3. Getting compensation, jail time for the accused would be justice, but apart from that do insist on the court to direct the local police authorities to take a tougher stance of such drivers - no rear lights, improver driving, wrong way etc. and developing a portal to get user complaints and showing the action taken against them.

Last edited by blackwasp : 1st October 2018 at 09:26.
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Old 1st October 2018, 10:15   #8
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Default Re: My son's accident - Who is really at fault?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pariwar View Post

The question here is, who (all) is really at fault?
  1. The driver for taking a u-turn in the middle of the carriageway without any prior indication? Absoutely
  2. The road authorities for not having a median and designated sections for taking legitimate turns (especially on such a wide carriageway)? I don't think they are at fault about that. Accident could have happened even with all markings in place.
  3. Planning authorities who plan and sanction such roads? Nope, same reason. The accident is the drivers fault, not the road.
  4. Tanker manufacturer for not having indicator lights on the trailer? Yes, they are responsible for that, but not for the accident. Even if there are lights , they may not be in working condition, given how irresponsible the owners-drivers are in general.
  5. RTO for allowing such trailers on the road and not booking them? Well, they are at fault at a much higher level. Not just about trailers, they are numerous transport vehicles that ply on roads in not so road worthy condition.
  6. Tractor-Tanker Owner for flouting safety norms and ensuring that the drivers follow safe driving practices? Yes, culprit no.2
  7. The system itself which allows untrained drivers on the road? Well that system includes the society we live in. Its the responsibility of the citizens too to proactively report/followup about such drivers, non road worthy vehicles and other safety violations. We don't bother, authorities are not worried, culprits are fearless. All are part of the system.
  8. Local / Central Government? Not relevant. To me, Government is also part of the larger system that is referred in point 7.
Really sad to know the incident and I can relate to the trauma that followed. I have been into that situation myself and one of my children too suffered a similar trauma but to a lesser extent. Glad that your son has recovered by now. My answers are there above.
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Old 1st October 2018, 10:32   #9
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Daily driving is the biggest risk activity that we all are exposed to. This is sort of mission statement is something we should follow and teach all our family and friends.

While court will rule on legal fault and responsibility fixation. It's is our own responsibility to become safer and aware driver.
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Old 1st October 2018, 11:19   #10
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Default Re: My son's accident - Who is really at fault?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pariwar View Post
The question here is, who (all) is really at fault?
Let me first to tell you it's a relief to know your son received the appropriate medical help in time and is recovering well. I wish him a speedy recovery.

Quote:
The driver for taking a u-turn in the middle of the carriageway without any prior indication?
This is obviously the driver's fault. These kind of sudden U turns are endemic on our roads. One needs to be very careful. Keeping a safe distance between the vehicle in front and your vehicle is paramount to give you those few precious fractions of a second to take corrective action including braking. Pulling out suddenly from behind a vehicle to overtake is another dangerous manoeuvre I have frequently noticed.

Quote:
The road authorities for not having a median and designated sections for taking legitimate turns (especially on such a wide carriageway)?
Roads are designed and made with certain constraints and it is we road users who need to be aware of the nature of that road including but not limited to breaks in the median. There should normally be sign posts to indicate the break. The lack of signage and relevant information is a serious shortcoming and should be reported to the authorities.

Quote:
Planning authorities who plan and sanction such roads?
There may be shortcomings in roads especially in this country. As mentioned above, we drivers/riders need to adapt to the road we travel on and drive accordingly.

Quote:
Tanker manufacturer for not having indicator lights on the trailer?
All vehicles are manufactured only after complying with the MVA and must mandatorily have lighting systems as specified. The fault here lies with the driver for either not using the indicators/flashers OR not maintaining them in operational condition.

Quote:
[*]RTO for allowing such trailers on the road and not booking them?
If one were to strictly remove ALL vehicles that are not road worthy our streets would be empty. The cops turn a blind eye to these people for various reasons.

Quote:
[*]Tractor-Tanker Owner for flouting safety norms and ensuring that the drivers follow safe driving practices?
It is ALWAYS the driver at fault as he is in charge of the vehicle and is expected to follow road safety rules at all times. The owner has limited influence or control on how a driver operates the vehicle. As long as the owner ensures the driver of the vehicle has a valid DL to operate the vehicle and is not under the influence of any substance he's pretty safe. We cannot expect an owner to monitor the driver's action on any journey unless he himself is present in the vehicle.

Quote:
[*]The system itself which allows untrained drivers on the road?
Many rural and semi rural drivers operate without driving licenses and even those who possess one do not follow the rules. At the end of the day it is all about enforcement and penalties for those who break the rules.

Quote:
[*]Local / Central Government?
How do they come into the picture? It is very clear from your post the driver of the trailer is to blame for having begun the U turn without the appropriate checks and showing a signal either with the hand or the flasher to indicate his next move.

Last edited by R2D2 : 1st October 2018 at 11:22.
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Old 1st October 2018, 12:07   #11
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Default Re: My son's accident - Who is really at fault?

I feel sorry for whatever has happened, good he has recovered and I wish he is as fit as a fiddle. The most worrying part for me in your post is the delay of medical assistance.

I am also an accident survivor but I do not remember anything of the incident. When I was gaining consciousness, some good Samaritan was carrying me in his car to the nearest medical center. All I wish is good for him and may God bless him. I wish everyone of us offer help without hesitation and if possible not wait for ambulance.
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Old 1st October 2018, 12:23   #12
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Default Re: My son's accident - Who is really at fault?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pariwar View Post
The question here is, who (all) is really at fault?
  1. The driver for taking a u-turn in the middle of the carriageway without any prior indication?
  2. The road authorities for not having a median and designated sections for taking legitimate turns (especially on such a wide carriageway)?
  3. Planning authorities who plan and sanction such roads?
  4. Tanker manufacturer for not having indicator lights on the trailer?
  5. RTO for allowing such trailers on the road and not booking them?
  6. Tractor-Tanker Owner for flouting safety norms and ensuring that the drivers follow safe driving practices?
  7. The system itself which allows untrained drivers on the road?
  8. Local / Central Government?
I am really sorry to read the story and to know that your son has recovered finally.

My personal opinion. It is easy to blame the system and everyone else including the whole world. But, if at all we need to drive the vehicles in any place, then, we need to consider all the above situations /dynamics as "GIVEN" and then drive the vehicles.

Second point, In any given accident occuring between two vehicles, 95% of the time, fault will be on both the sides. But, degree varies between two parties. Sometimes, it is 75-25 and some times it is 90-10 and so on

Fault from Tractor Driver:
Pretty straight forward:
1. He should have at least given hand signal and indicate before turning right or left
2. He should have seen if someone is coming from behind overtaking before taking u turn

Fault from the scooter rider:
1. Given that fact that the tractor has another trailer and driver cannot see what is behind the trailer, He should have honked and made the tractor driver aware about the scooter is overtaking him. Once Tractor driver is aware, he should have overtaken
2. As soon as he observed another tractor in front, he should either stop overtaking or take some other strategy (Not sure what is that. It depends on the situation)

Another issue here which I am not able to understand is, if the tractor was taking u turn to get inside some water filling area, and if there was another tractor in the front, why the first tractor did not take the u turn first ?

Last edited by gkveda : 1st October 2018 at 12:26.
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