COMPENSATION IN MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CASES

COMPENSATION IN MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CASES

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COMPENSATION IN MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CASES
COMPENSATION IN MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CASES

Aapka Consultant Judgment Series- In this series, we are providing case analysis of Landmark Judgments of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.

Dr. Balram Prasad v. Dr. Kunal Saha and Ors.

(2014) 1 SCC 384

JUDGES: V. Gopala Gowda and C.K.Prasad

Date of Decision: 24-10-2013

FACTS:-

The claimant Kunal Saha, a US-based Indian- origin doctor filed a case of medical negligence which led to the death of his wife in 1998, against the negligent doctor and hospital before The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC). Kunal Saha contacted a qualified wrongful death lawyer to help him with his case. But, the NCDRC dismissed his case by stating that there is no negligence by doctors. Ultimately, matter reached before Supreme Court and Hon’ble Apex Court held doctors guilty of negligence and the case was referred to NCDRC for the sole purpose of determining quantum of compensation. Finally, NCDRC awarded Rs.1.73 crore as compensation to the claimant. However, the claimant, the Appellant-Hospital and the doctors were aggrieved by the amount of compensation awarded by the National Commission and also the manner in which liability was apportioned amongst each of them. While the claimant was aggrieved by the inadequate amount of compensation, the Appellant-Hospital and the doctors found the amount to be excessive and too harsh. They further claimed that the proportion of liability ascertained on each of them is unreasonable. Hence, this case arises.

ISSUE:-

(1) Whether the claim of the claimant for enhancement of compensation in his appeal is justified. If it is so, for what compensation he is entitled to?

(2) Whether the National Commission is justified in adopting the multiplier method to determine the compensation and to award the compensation in favour of the claimant?

(3) Whether the claimant is entitled to the interest on the compensation that would be awarded?

JUDGMENT:-

The Hon’ble Court noted that the claim for enhancement of compensation by the claimant in his appeal is justified. It relied on various judgments and reiterated the principle that there is no restriction that compensation could be awarded only up to the amount claimed by the claimant. In an appropriate case, where from the evidence brought on record if the Tribunal/court considers that the claimant is entitled to get more compensation than claimed, the Tribunal may pass such award. The only embargo is—it should be ‘just’ compensation, that is to say, it should be neither arbitrary, fanciful nor unjustifiable from the evidence. This would be clear by reference to the relevant provisions of the MV Act. It further stated that it is the duty of the Tribunals, Commissions and the Courts to consider relevant facts and evidence in respect of facts and circumstances of each and every case for awarding just and reasonable compensation. It is an undisputed fact that the victim was a graduate in psychology from a highly prestigious Ivy League school in New York. She had a brilliant future ahead of her. However, the National Commission has calculated the entire compensation and prospective loss of income solely based on a pay receipt showing a paltry income of only $30,000 per year which she was earning as a graduate student. Therefore, the National Commission has committed grave error in taking that figure to determine compensation under the head of loss of dependency and the same is contrary to the observations made by this Court in earlier judgments. Therefore, Hon’ble Court decided in the favour of the claimant that he is entitled for enhanced compensation.

The National Commission has used the “multiplier” method under Section 163A read with the 2nd schedule of the Motor Vehicles Act to determine the quantum of compensation in favour of the claimant applying the multiplier method as has been laid down by this Court in Sarla Verma v. Delhi Transport Corporation [(2009) 6 SCC 121]. Consequently, it has taken up multiplier of 15 in the present case to quantify the compensation under the loss of dependency of the claimant. Hon’ble Apex Court noted that this Court is skeptical about using a strait jacket multiplier method for determining the quantum of compensation in a medical negligence solicitors claim. On the contrary, this Court mentions various instances where the Court chose to deviate from the standard multiplier method to avoid over-compensation and also relied upon the quantum of multiplicand to choose the appropriate multiplier. Therefore, the National Commission or this Court requires determining just, fair and reasonable compensation on the basis of the income that was being earned by the deceased at the time of her death and other related claims on account of death of the wife of the claimant. Rochester construction injury lawyers can give you in-depth analysis of the negligence recovery process and ensure you receive the actual compensation that you deserve from such claims. Call them now!

It further noted that the Interest is payable from the date when claim for the principal sum is made, namely, the date of institution of the proceedings in the recovery of the amount. The National Commission in not awarding interest on the compensation amount from the date of filing of the original complaint up to the date of payment of entire compensation by the doctors and Hospital to the claimant is most unreasonable and the same is opposed to the provision of the Interest Act, 1978.

The Hon’ble Court further noted that the number of medical negligence cases against doctors, Hospitals and Nursing Homes in the consumer forum are increasing day by day. The right to health of a citizen is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It was held in that case that all the government Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Poly-clinics are liable to provide treatment to the best of their capacity to all the patients.

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The doctors, Hospitals, the Nursing Homes and other connected establishments are to be dealt with strictly if they are found to be negligent with the patients who come to them pawning all their money with the hope to live a better life with dignity. The patients irrespective of their social, cultural and economic background are entitled to be treated with dignity which not only forms their fundamental right but also their human right. Dallas medical malpractice attorney will help you win your case.

HELD:-

The Hon’ble Supreme Court enhanced the compensation amount from Rs 1.73 crore to Rs 5.96 crore and asked AMRI and the doctors to pay the amount and also asked to pay interest at the rate of 6 per cent from the date of filing of the complaint in 1999 till the actual date of payment to claimant. Noting an increasing number of medical negligence cases coming before the consumer forums, the court said it hopes this verdict “acts as a deterrent and a reminder to those doctors, hospitals, the nursing homes and other connected establishments who do not take their responsibility seriously”.

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