Damages under Fatal Accidents Act, Pecuniary Loss and Pecuniary Benefit

Damages under Fatal Accidents Act, Pecuniary Loss and Pecuniary Benefit Case Laws Civil Law Damages Death Compensation Claim Fatal Accidents Knowledge - Civil Law Lahore High Court Litigation & Arbitration Solutions - Civil Law Mr. Justice Muhammad Khalid Mehmood Khan in his judgment has decided the issue regarding damages under Fatal Accidents Act, pecuniary loss and pecuniary benefit in Regular First Appeal No. 528 of 2010.

1. The respondents Malik Muhammad Sher and Mst. Kamal Khatoon filed a suit against respondents No.3 to 5 and appellant for recovery of Rs.76,50,000/- being the damages under Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 claiming that their son Asim Nawaz Qamar while performing his duties at Lahore to Islamabad Motorway died due to negligent driving of respondent No.3, respondents No.4 , 5 and appellant are the owners of vehicles, the accident took place due to negligence of the driver, hence the owners along with driver are bound to pay the damages. It was asserted that at the time of death of their son he was 29 years of age and was drawing a salary of Rs.15,000/- per month, the average age in their family is 79 years, hence till the date of retirement he was entitled to receive salary of Rs.90,00,000/- and after deduction of 25% of his personal expenses the respondents are entitled to be paid Rs.67,50,000/-. Respondent No.3 and appellant contested the suit. The appellant claimed that he is not the owner of vehicle and as such he is not liable to pay the damages. The appellant submitted that the vehicle is in the name of respondent No.4 and respondent No.4 alone is responsible for payment of compensation if payable. It was further stated that the deceased met with an accident due to his own negligence as he wrongly crossed the road. The learned trial court framed the issues and after recording the evidence decreed the suit for Rs.49,80,970/- vide judgment and decree dated 19.04.2010. The learned trial court passed the decree against the appellant and respondent No.3. It was ordered that 50% of the decretal amount shall be paid to mother of deceased Kamal Khatoon and 50% will be shared by the legal heirs of Malik Muhammad Sher, father of deceased. It is pertinent to mention that father of deceased, Malik Muhammad Sher, died before passing the decree and his legal heirs were impleaded party to the suit. The appellant has assailed the judgment and decree dated 19.04.2010 through this appeal.

2. Learned counsel for appellant submits that according to FIR No.276 registered on 01.12.2003 under Section 279/320 PPC at Police Station Mid Ranjha District Sargodha the only accused is respondent No.3, the driver, who was driving the vehicle when the accident took place. Respondent No.3 was prosecuted and has been convicted. The appellant was never summoned by the criminal court or any investigating agency, the appellant was not the owner of vehicle at the time when the accident took place i.e 01.12.2003, the vehicle at that time was in the name of Nizam Din respondent No.4, the appellant purchased the vehicle after the accident as scrap, hence the appellant is not vicariously liable to pay any compensation or damages. It is an admitted fact that the appellant was not driving the vehicle at the time when accident took place. The appellant become the owner of vehicle on 17.2.2004 when the Magistrate granted superdari of vehicle to appellant. The insurance company was not made party to the suit. The calculation of damages are wrong, the actual wrong doer has been punished for seven years whereas the appellant has no concern what so ever with the accident. Maximum stake of appellant in the vehicle is Rs.200,000/- hence only a decree for recovery of Rs.200,000/- can be passed against the appellant if the court comes to the conclusion that the appellant is liable to pay. The learned trial court has failed to appreciate that the deceased was a government servant and the government has purchased a group insurance for deceased which is payable to the legal heirs of insurer if he/she dies during the service, the amount of group insurance is deductible from the claim in dispute. Learned counsel further submits that the claim under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 is payable to the dependents only and is not payable to the legal heirs. Admittedly Malik Muhammad Sher, father of deceased, died before passing the decree and as such the legal heirs of deceased Malik Muhammad Sher are not entitled of any decree as the suit to the extent of Malik Muhammad Sher stand abated and as such the learned trial court has erred in law while decreeing the suit in favour of legal heirs of Malik Muhammad Sher.

3. Learned counsel for respondents supports the impugned judgment and decree and submits that admittedly the appellant is the owner of vehicle, as he was plying the vehicle on the basis of open transfer letter, he intentionally, to avoid his liability get the vehicle transferred in his name after the accident. Learned counsel submits that appellant has not set-up the defence that group insurance of deceased was deductible from the damages awarded by the court under Fatal Accidents Act, 1855. Learned counsel submits that the amount of group insurance is independent amount which is payable to the legal heirs of deceased whereas damages under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 are only payable to the dependants, hence the appellant is liable to pay the decretal amount. Learned counsel submits that maximum effect of death of one of the plaintiffs before passing the decree is that surviving plaintiff will be entitled to recover the entire decretal amount being the dependent of deceased. Learned counsel for respondents has relied on Pakistan through Secretary, Ministry of Defence and others V. Haji Abdul Razzaue (2005 SCMR 587) and Akhtar Ali Khan V. Islamic Republic of Pakistan through Secretary, Ministry of Health, Islamabad and another (2007 MLD 851).

4. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties and gone through the record.

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