Sunday 1 June 2014

Whether cattle can be blamed for accident?

CHANDIGARH: When an animal causes a road accident, you cannot hold it responsible for the negligence and refuse compensation for the victims, ruled Punjab and Haryana high court. 

In an order issued on May 19, the high court ruled that a motor accident on account of cattle crossing the road did not mean that the driver could not have prevented it. 

"All accidents have a latent quality of want of care in some way. A driver or passenger cannot say that an animal was negligent, for it is illogical, and does not come within the realm of legal reasoning. The reasoning is that any person who drives must factor his own driving skills and not looking for excuses of how another agency that is not human has created a situation that had diminished his own driving skills," held the HC. 

A single bench of Justice K Kannan has laid down these guidelines while hearing a case filed by Ropar residents Harmesh Kumar and Om Prakash, whose three-wheeler collided with a car driven by Inderjit Singh of Chandigarh on December 1, 2009. 

In the police records, it was stated that a stray cattle crossing the road had caused the accident. 

When Om Prakash and Harmesh moved the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal for compensation, their plea was rejected on the ground that accident occurred due to the negligence of an animal. The duo challenged the tribunal's order in the HC. 

Holding that "negligence cannot be attributed to any person other than a human agency", the HC said no driver can ever come to the court to say that he "carefully" dashed against another vehicle. Careful driving and collision do not go together, the HC said and set aside the tribunal's order. 

"In case of collision between two vehicles, negligence must rest somewhere between the two. It cannot come to a conclusion that there exists an accident but still there was no negligence, unless it was a case of bolt from the blue, as it were, which would be God's dispensation. Any other accident must be taken as accident resulting from the negligence out of the drivers," observed Justice Kannan.
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