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MACT - Permanent disability - calculate - compensation - Supreme Court - Part 2

1) C. K. Subramonia Iyer vs. T. Kunhikuttan Nair - AIR 1970 SC 376
2) R. D. Hattangadi vs. Pest Control (India) Ltd. - 1995 (1) SCC 551
3) Baker vs. Willoughby - 1970 AC 467
4) Arvind Kumar Mishra v. New India Assurance Co.Ltd. - 2010(10) SCALE 298
5) Yadava Kumar v. D.M., National Insurance Co. Ltd. - 2010 (8) SCALE 567)



5. The heads under which compensation is awarded in personal injury cases are the following : Pecuniary damages (Special Damages)
(i) Expenses relating to treatment, hospitalization, medicines, transportation, nourishing food, and miscellaneous expenditure.
(ii) Loss of earnings (and other gains) which the injured would have made had he not been injured, comprising :
(a) Loss of earning during the period of treatment;
(b) Loss of future earnings on account of permanent disability.
(iii) Future medical expenses.
Non-pecuniary damages (General Damages)
(iv) Damages for pain, suffering and trauma as a consequence of the injuries.
(v) Loss of amenities (and/or loss of prospects of marriage).
(vi) Loss of expectation of life (shortening of normal longevity). 

In routine personal injury cases, compensation will be awarded only under heads (i), (ii)(a) and (iv). It is only in serious cases of injury, where there is specific medical evidence corroborating the evidence of the claimant, that compensation will be granted under any of the heads (ii)(b), (iii), (v) and (vi) relating to loss of future earnings on account of permanent disability, future medical expenses, loss of amenities (and/or loss of prospects of marriage) and loss of expectation of life. Assessment of pecuniary damages under item (i) and under item (ii)(a) do not pose much difficulty as they involve reimbursement of actuals and are easily ascertainable from the evidence. Award under the head of future medical expenses - item (iii) -- depends upon specific medical evidence regarding need for further treatment and cost thereof. Assessment of non-pecuniary damages - items (iv), (v) and (vi) -- involves determination of lump sum amounts with reference to circumstances such as age, nature of injury/deprivation/disability suffered by the claimant and the effect thereof on the future life of the claimant. Decision of this Court and High Courts contain necessary guidelines for award under these heads, if necessary. What usually poses some difficulty is the assessment of the loss of future earnings on account of permanent disability - item (ii)(a).

6. Disability refers to any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner considered normal for a human-being. Permanent disability refers to the residuary incapacity or loss of use of some part of the body, found existing at the end of the period of treatment and recuperation, after achieving the maximum bodily improvement or recovery which is likely to remain for the remainder life of the injured. Temporary disability refers to the incapacity or loss of use of some part of the body on account of the injury, which will cease to exist at the end of the period of treatment and  recuperation. Permanent disability can be either partial or total. Partial permanent disability refers to a person's inability to perform all the duties and bodily functions that he could perform before the accident, though he is able to perform some of them and is still able to engage in some gainful activity. Total permanent disability refers to a person's inability to perform any avocation or employment related activities as a result of the accident. The permanent disabilities that may arise from motor accidents injuries, are of a much wider range when compared to the physical disabilities which are enumerated in the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (`Disabilities Act' for short).
But if any of the disabilities enumerated in section 2(i) of the Disabilities Act are the result of injuries sustained in a motor accident, they can be permanent disabilities for the purpose of claiming compensation.
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8. Where the claimant suffers a permanent disability as a result of injuries, the assessment of compensation under the head of loss of future earnings, would depend upon the effect and impact of such permanent disability on his earning capacity. The Tribunal should not mechanically apply the percentage of permanent disability as the percentage of economic loss or loss of earning capacity. In most of the cases, the percentage of economic loss, that is, percentage of loss of earning capacity, arising from a permanent disability will be different from the percentage of permanent disability. Some Tribunals wrongly assume that in all cases, a particular extent (percentage) of permanent disability would result in a corresponding loss of earning capacity, and consequently, if the evidence produced show 45% as the permanent disability, will hold that there is 45% loss of future earning capacity. In most of the cases, equating the extent (percentage) of loss of earning capacity to the extent (percentage) of permanent disability will result in award of either too low or too high a compensation. What requires to be assessed by the Tribunal is the effect of the permanently disability on the earning capacity of the injured; and after assessing the loss of earning capacity in terms of a percentage of the income, it has to be quantified in terns of money, to arrive at the future loss of earnings (by applying the standard multiplier method used to determine loss of dependency). We may however note that in some cases, on appreciation of evidence and assessment, the Tribunal may find that percentage of loss of earning capacity as a result of the permanent disability, is approximately the same as the percentage of permanent disability in which case, of course, the Tribunal will adopt the said percentage for determination of compensation (see for example, the decisions of this court in Arvind Kumar Mishra v. New India Assurance Co.Ltd. - 2010(10) SCALE 298 and Yadava Kumar v. D.M., National Insurance Co. Ltd. - 2010 (8) SCALE 567).

9. Therefore, the Tribunal has to first decide whether there is any permanent disability and if so the extent of such permanent disability. This means that the tribunal should consider and decide with reference to the evidence: (i) whether the disablement is permanent or temporary; (ii) if the disablement is permanent, whether it is permanent total disablement or permanent partial disablement, (iii) if the disablement percentage is expressed with reference to any specific limb, then the effect of such disablement of the limb on the functioning of the entire body, that is the permanent disability suffered by the person. If the Tribunal concludes that there is no permanent disability then there is no question of proceeding further and determining the loss of future earning capacity. But if the Tribunal concludes that there is permanent disability then it will proceed to ascertain its extent. After the Tribunal ascertains the actual extent of permanent disability of the claimant based on the medical evidence, it has to determine whether such permanent disability has affected or will affect his earning capacity.

10. Ascertainment of the effect of the permanent disability on the actual earning capacity involves three steps. The Tribunal has to first ascertain what activities the claimant could carry on in spite of the permanent disability and what he could not do as a result of the permanent ability (this is also relevant for awarding compensation under the head of loss of amenities of life). The second step is to ascertain his avocation, profession and nature of work before the accident, as also his age. The third step is to find out whether (i) the claimant is totally disabled from earning any kind of livelihood, or (ii) whether in spite of the permanent disability, the claimant could still effectively carry on the activities and functions, which he was earlier carrying on, or (iii) whether he was prevented or restricted from discharging his previous activities and functions, but could carry on some other or lesser scale of activities and functions so that he continues to earn or can continue to earn his livelihood. For example, if the left hand of a claimant is amputated, the permanent physical or functional disablement may be assessed around 60%. If the claimant was a driver or a carpenter, the actual loss of earning capacity may virtually be hundred percent, if he is neither able to drive or do carpentry. On the other hand, if the claimant was a clerk in government service, the loss of his left hand may not result in loss of employment and he may still be continued as a clerk as he could perform his clerical functions; and in that event the loss of earning capacity will not be 100% as in the case of a driver or carpenter, nor 60% which is the actual physical disability, but far less. In fact, there may not be any need to award any compensation under the head of 'loss of future earnings', if the claimant continues in government service, though he may be awarded compensation under the head of loss of amenities as a consequence of losing his hand. Sometimes the injured claimant may be continued in service, but may not found suitable for discharging the duties attached to the post or job which he was earlier holding, on account of his disability, and may therefore be shifted to some other suitable but lesser post with lesser emoluments, in which case there should be a limited award under the head of loss of future earning capacity, taking note of the reduced earning capacity. It may be noted that when compensation is awarded by treating the loss of future earning capacity as 100% (or even anything more than 50%), the need to award compensation separately under the head of loss of amenities or loss of expectation of life may disappear and as a result, only a token or nominal amount may have to be awarded under the head of loss of amenities or loss of expectation of life, as otherwise there may be a duplication in the award of compensation. Be that as it may.
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13. We may now summarise the principles discussed above :
(i) All injuries (or permanent disabilities arising from injuries), do not result in loss of earning capacity.
(ii) The percentage of permanent disability with reference to the whole body of a person, cannot be assumed to be the percentage of loss of earning capacity. To put it differently, the percentage of loss of earning capacity is not the same as the percentage of permanent disability (except in a few cases, where the Tribunal on the basis of evidence, concludes that percentage of loss of earning capacity is the same as percentage of permanent disability).
(iii) The doctor who treated an injured-claimant or who examined him subsequently to assess the extent of his permanent disability can give evidence only in regard the extent of permanent disability. The loss of earning capacity is something that will have to be assessed by the Tribunal with reference to the evidence in entirety.
(iv) The same permanent disability may result in different percentages of loss of earning capacity in different persons, depending upon the nature of profession, occupation or job, age, education and other factors.

14. The assessment of loss of future earnings is explained below with reference to the following illustrations:

Illustration 'A': The injured, a workman, was aged 30 years and earning Rs.3000/- per month at the time of accident. As per Doctor's evidence, the permanent disability of the limb as a consequence 
of the injury was 60% and the consequential permanent disability to the person was quantified at 30%. The loss of earning capacity is however assessed by the Tribunal as 15% on the basis of evidence, because the claimant is continued in employment, but in a lower grade. Calculation of compensation will be as follows:
a) Annual income before the accident
b) Loss of future earning per annum (15% of the prior annual income)
c) Multiplier applicable with reference to age
d) Loss of future earnings : (5400 x 17) : Rs. 91,800/-

Illustration 'B': The injured was a driver aged 30 years, earning Rs.3000/- per month. His hand is amputated and his permanent disability is assessed at 60%. He was terminated from his job as he could no longer drive. His chances of getting any other employment was bleak and even if he got any job, the salary was likely to be a pittance. The Tribunal therefore assessed his loss of future earning capacity as 75%. Calculation of compensation will be as follows:
a) Annual income prior to the accident : Rs.36,000/-.
b) Loss of future earning per annum (75% of the prior annual income) : Rs.27000/-.
c) Multiplier applicable with to age reference : 17
d) Loss of future earnings : (27000 x 17) : Rs. 4,59,000/-


Illustration 'C': The injured was 25 years and a final year Engineering student. As a result of the accident, he was in coma for two months, his right hand was amputated and vision was affected. The permanent disablement was assessed as 70%. As the injured was incapacitated to pursue his chosen career and as he required the assistance of a servant throughout his life, the loss of future earning capacity was also assessed as 70%. The calculation of compensation will be as follows:
a) Minimum annual income he would have got if had been employed as an Engineer : Rs.60,000/-
b) Loss of future earning per annum (70% : Rs.42000/- of the expected annual income)
c) Multiplier applicable (25 years) : 18
d) Loss of future earnings : (42000 x 18) : Rs. 7,56,000/- 
[Note : The figures adopted in illustrations (A) and (B) are hypothetical. The figures in Illustration (C) however are based on actuals taken from the decision in Arvind Kumar Mishra (supra)].

15. After the insertion of section 163A in the Act (with effect from 14.11.1994), if a claim for compensation is made under that section by an injured alleging disability, and if the quantum of loss of future earning claimed, falls under the second schedule to the Act, the Tribunal may have to apply the following principles laid down in Note (5) of the Second Schedule to the Act to determine compensation :
"5. Disability in non-fatal accidents :
The following compensation shall be payable in case of disability to the victim arising out of non-fatal accidents : -
Loss of income, if any, for actual period of disablement not exceeding fifty two weeks.
PLUS either of the following :-
(a) In case of permanent total disablement the amount payable shall be arrived at by multiplying the annual loss of income by the Multiplier applicable to the age on the date of determining the compensation, or
(b) In case of permanent partial disablement such percentage of compensation which would have been payable in the case of permanent total disablement as specified under item (a) above.

Injuries deemed to result in Permanent Total Disablement/Permanent Partial Disablement and percentage of loss of earning capacity shall be as per Schedule I under Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923."

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