Things to keep in mind if you own a car or any other vehicle

Wednesday 04 July 2012, 11:51 AM by

Recently, a 70-year old woman was mowed down by Sohail Khan's driver in Bandra who later surrendered to the police and was released on Rs. 10,000 bail. According to reports, Sohail was not present in the vehicle when the mishap took place. However, it raised several questions which need to be answered. There are two different scenarios in which the owner can be held responsible - his car meets with an accident but he is not physically present and the second being, he is present in the car but not behind the wheel.

In case the owner is not present in his car when it crashes, the whole responsibility lies with the person driving the car. Only situation in which the owner can be accused is when the car was not in drivable condition. On the other hand, if the car owner has been present in the vehicle at the time of accident, he cannot be held accountable unless he encouraged the driver to drive in a rash and speedy manner.

Vora, a Civil Lawyer forum, states, "The owner is liable if the act or wrongdoing (in this case, driving rashly and running over someone) is under the consent or permission of the owner. Mere words from the driver saying he was under the owner's instruction will not hold up in court. Under civil and criminal law, the relationship between the car owner and driver is defined as 'master' and 'servant' and the master cannot be held liable for the wrongdoing of the servant, unless it is proved it was done under such consent or permission by the master. The criterion is evidence in such cases."

According to Mahesh Vaswani, Lawyer, law states that it is the responsibility of driver to take the victim to the hospital for treatment. The car owner may not be held directly responsible for the accident; however it becomes his moral duty to make sure that the victim receives immediate treatment. This is applicable in both the situations when he is present in the car and even also when he is not and comes to know about the matter later.

A Civil Right Lawyer, Deepak Thakkar, states that the victim of road accidents must file an application to the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) to seek compensation. According to the law, if the accident has caused death or a permanent disablement, the owner of the vehicles are held liable to pay compensation to the victim or in case of death, to his family. However, in case the car was insured, the liability of the compensation is borne by the insurance company.

Thakkar said, “Once it is found that vehicle is involved in the accident, the MACT will pass an interim award under the principles of 'no fault liability'. This means that the amount is payable, not because there was fault on the part of the driver of the vehicle, but because the vehicle was involved in the accident.”

Few pointers that a vehicle owner should keep in mind to avoid entanglement with law include to maintain the condition of the vehicle and should have its proper documents, including insurance papers. He must ensure that his driver has the potential to handle the car safely and have a valid license to drive. The owner should never force the driver to drive beyond permissible speed limits and break traffic laws. Keeping these things in mind, car owners can avoid an encounter with law officials.

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