• The new rules will come into force from 1 April 2022 and enable faster settlement of accident insurance claims.
  • The Central Motor Vehicles (fifth Amendment) Rules, 2022 published on 25 February 2022, has mandated the procedure for detailed investigation of road accidents, the detailed accident report (DAR) and its reporting, along with timelines for different stakeholders, for quick settlements of claims by the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal (MACT).
  • The rules have also mandated incorporation of validated mobile number in the certificate of insurance.
  • The new rules will come into force from 1 April 2022 and enable faster settlement of accident insurance claims.

What Are The Changes?

According to the notification, immediately on receipt of the information of a road accident, the investigating officer (IO) of police shall inspect the site of accident, take photographs of the scene of the accident and the vehicle(s) involved in the accident and prepare a site plan.

In the case of injury, the IO shall also take the photographs of the injured in the hospital, the notification said. The IO shall conduct spot enquiry by examining the eyewitnesses/bystanders.

The new rules require the IO to intimate the accident to the claims tribunal within 48 hours of the accident, by submitting the first accident report (FAR). The IO shall also inform the insurance company concerned of the offending vehicle in the given format.

Victims and their legal representatives will have to be informed about their rights and the flowchart of the settlement scheme produced within 10 days of the accident.

Issue With Accident Relief

India has a dubious distinction of having the highest number of road accidents. Some 1.5 lakh people die, and more than 4.5 lakh people are injured in road accidents every year in the country — 415 deaths per day in road accidents. About 70 per cent of the deaths are in the age group of 18 to 45 years old.

According to the latest report of the ministry, 449,002 road accidents were reported in 2019 resulting in 151,113 deaths and 451,361 injuries — an average of one road accident every 1.17 minute resulting in one death every 3.47 minute, which is the highest in the world.

The problem is acute for most of the victims of the road accidents who are poor people walking on the road or riding on bicycles/scooters. The victims of the road accident need the compensation immediately. The death of the sole bread earner of the family leaving behind old and infirm parents, helpless wife, and minor children leads them to starvation.

Until June 2009, the victims of road accidents were not given the compensation without filing a claim petition before the MACT even if the vehicle was validly insured. Consequently, the victims were forced to file an application for compensation before the MACT and were entangled in an unnecessary, lengthy and costly litigation.

Further, the law as it stood sought claimant to prove that the driver of the offending vehicle was guilty of rash and negligent driving. The burden thus placed was very heavy and difficult to be discharged by the claimants. The records of the police investigation were not made available to the tribunal. Due to inordinate delay in the disposal of the petition before the MACT, the urgently needed relief to the claimants was not available for several years. Further time was taken in appeals. All along, the victims had to carry on without any relief.

What Prompted The Change?

On 21 December 2009, Delhi High Court, in Rajesh Tyagi versus Jaibir Singh case, formulated a special scheme for time bound settlement of motor accident claims within 90 to 120 days which was implemented on 2 April 2010.

Under the scheme, the IO is required to send a FAR regarding any road accident to the claims tribunal and insurance company within 48 hours.

The latest changes in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, have been made following a Delhi High Court order in 2021 which had directed the Road Transport Ministry to consider the scheme formulated by it for motor accident claims at the time of framing of rules regarding the accident information report.

Special Court For Road Accident Insurance Claims

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 allows application for compensation to Motor Accident Claim Tribunal (MACT) or civil court, as the case may be, on the principle of fault/negligence of the driver of the vehicle causing the accident.

In such cases, MACT or the courts award compensation on the merits of each case. Setting up of these courts comes within the purview of the respective state governments. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways does not operate any separate scheme for this purpose.

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