Observing that mere smell of alcohol cannot lead to an inference that a person is incapable of taking care of himself or driving, the Chandigarh State Disputes Redressal Commission has ordered an insurance firm to pay a Panchkula resident Rs 4.20 lakh, which is the Insured Declared Value of his car, the accident claim of which was rejected on an observation of PGIMER stating him to be under the influence. The consumer forum has also directed United India Insurance Company Ltd to pay Rs 11,000 fine to Manoj Kumar, a resident of Sector 19, Panchkula. The order was brought to public domain on Thursday.
Kumar had got his car insured for the period of July 27, 2016, to July 26, 2017, for a sum assured of Rs 4.20 lakh. Kumar alleged that on January 7, 2017, he met with an accident, in which he suffered injuries and the car was badly damaged. He was referred to PGIMER where “doctors, without examining, gave an observation that he was under the influence of alcohol, just on the basis of a foul smell coming from his clothes”.
Meanwhile, on receipt of the intimation regarding the accident, the surveyor and investigator of the insurance firm assessed the loss of the complainant’s car, but rejected the claim on the ground that he was under the influence of liquor. Kumar then gave a formal complaint to the forum.
The insurance company, in its reply, pleaded that the complainant has violated the terms and conditions of the policy and that the claim was rightly repudiated on the ground that he was under the influence of liquor on the date of the accident.
On the other hand, the PGI stated that the complainant was admitted to the emergency department and was initially examined by a junior resident, general surgery of the Advance Trauma Centre (ATC), who recorded that the patient was under the influence of alcohol. Thereafter the patient was referred to Neurosurgery Department and examined by a senior resident. It was again recorded that alcohol was present and that he was also given Thiamine injection, given to those presumed to be under the influence of alcohol.
The forum, after hearing the arguments, observed that the insurance firm has not been able to bring on record any concrete and reliable evidence in shape of any medical test report of the complainant to prove that he was under the influence of liquor at the time of the accident and was incapable of taking care of himself/drive the vehicle.
As per Sections 185 and 202 of the Motor Vehicles Act, if a person has over 30 mg of alcohol in per 100 ml of his blood, he will be considered intoxicated. “In the present case, no test had been conducted by the PGI to ascertain whether blood alcohol content had exceeded…,” said the forum.