Karnataka High Court recently held that an insurance company is liable to pay the compensation even if the driver of an insured vehicle dies of a heart attack in a parked vehicle during the course of employment. The compensation cannot be denied only on the grounds that the lorry was not in use at the time of death of the person.
Noting that driving is a tension-filled job, the High Court bench comprising Justice H.P. Sandesh stated, “The Court has to take note of policy taken in order to cover the risk of the driver during the course of employment. I have already pointed out that respondent No.1 (employer) in the written statement in para No.2 categorically admitted that the death is in the course of employment and the same cannot be disputed by the insurer.”
Karnataka High Court dismissed an appeal filed by The Divisional Manager National Insurance Company Limited challenging a judgment and award passed in August 2009 by the Workmen’s Commissioner. The Commissioner had ordered the insurance company to pay compensation of Rs.3,03,620/- with 12% interest to the legal heirs of the deceased driver Eranna.
The company argued that the death is on account of cardiac failure and the same is not a ground of usage of the vehicle, which was parked near a petrol bunk. It was found that the reason for the death was a blockage in the heart. The company also contended that the owner of the vehicle had complained that the driver was in the habit of intoxication everyday and when he was consuming alcohol, there is no liability on the employer to pay the compensation.
Addressing the contention that the driver was taking intoxicated drugs, the bench said, “No doubt in the complaint as well as in the charge sheet based on the complaint given by the employer the same is stated. But in order to prove the factum that he has consumed the alcohol, no material is placed before the court. The postmortem report is also very silent and nothing is on record.”
The bench added, “There need not necessarily be the vehicle must be in usage at the time of his death and Court has to take note of casual connection with employment and death and the policy is taken to cover the risk of the driver.”