Hit-and-Run Cases: How They Are Settled
The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is a piece of social legislation and its provisions are designed to protect the rights of road-accident victims where the identity of the motor vehicle causing the accident cannot be established. The relevant legal provision is enshrined in Section 161 of the Act where a ‘hit-and-run motor accident’ is defined as an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle or motor vehicles the identity whereof cannot be ascertained in spite of reasonable efforts for the purpose.
This Section provides for compensation (solatium) as follows: In respect of the death of any person resulting from a hit-and-run motor accident, now a fixed sum of Rs 25,000 In respect of grievous hurt to any person resulting from a hit-and-run motor accident, now a fixed sum of Rs 12,500
The victim of the ‘hit-and-run’ vehicle or his legal representative shall make an application to the claims enquiry officer in the relevant taluka. After due enquiries, the claims enquiry officer will submit a report together with the certificate of post-mortem or the injury certificate to the claims settlement commissioner, who is either the district collector or the deputy commissioner at the district level. He will process the claims and sanction the payment within 15 days from the receipt of report from the claims enquiry officer and communicate the sanction order to the nominated office of the insurance company.
Compensations under hit-and-run accident cases are made from a Solatium Fund which is managed by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority or any other agency specified by the Central Government. Insurance companies make such contribution to the fund as the Central Government may, from time to time, by order specify. The administration of claims is done by New India Assurance Co. Ltd, which has nominated one divisional manager in each district at district-level committee, which is headed by the district collector.