‘Tyre burst human negligence, not act of God,’ HC denies insurance firm’s plea

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court rejected an appeal by New India Assurance Company Limited to deny compensation to the family of a man who died in a car accident.

The court stated that a tyre burst is caused by human negligence and not an act of God. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal had previously directed the company to pay Rs 1.25 crore to the victim’s family, a ruling that was upheld by the single bench of Justice S G Dige on February 17.

Makarand Patwardhan was killed in a car accident on October 25, 2010, while travelling from Pune to Mumbai with two colleagues. The driver was speeding in a reckless manner when the rear wheel burst, causing the car to fall into a ditch and killing Patwardhan instantly.

The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal had previously acknowledged that Patwardhan was the sole breadwinner of his family. The insurance company had appealed against the compensation amount of Rs 1.25 crore, arguing that it was excessive and that the tyre burst was an act of God and not due to the driver’s negligence.

The HC, however, denies accepting this contention and said the dictionary meaning of “act of God” was “an instance of uncontrollable natural forces in operation.”

“It refers to a severe unanticipated natural event for which no human is responsible. The bursting of a tyre cannot be termed an act of God. It is an act of human negligence,” the court said.

It added there are various reasons for tyre burst such as high speed, underinflated, overinflated or second-hand tyres and temperature.

“The driver or owner of the vehicle has to check the condition of the tyre before travelling. A Burst of the tyre cannot be termed a natural act. It is human negligence,” the order said.

Merely stating a burst of the tyre is an act of God cannot be a ground to exonerate the insurance company from paying compensation, the HC added.


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