The Fatal Accidents Act, 1855

The Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 was enacted on 27th March 1855. This Act is legislated to provide benefit of compensation to the dependants in instance of loss caused by the death of an Individual through actionable wrong. This Act rendered the latin maxim “Actio personalis mortur cum persona” which says that any tortuous action or contract get destroyed by the death of the injured party. This Act is enacted with the lines of The Fatal Accident Act, 1846. This Act clearly says that when any death caused by a person due to its wrongful default or negligent action shall be made liable to get sued for damages. Legal proceedings should be on behalf of the dependants of the deceased who is died due to fatal accident. They might be an Administrator, executor or any representatives of the deceased.

In the case of these legal proceedings by any representatives, the court should give such appropriate damages to the loss or death caused due to the fatal accident caused to him. These amounts have to be shared between the dependants of the deceased as prescribed by the court. No suit should be filed more than once for the same subject matter of claim. Whereas it is allowed to insert further claim for loss occurred or recovery of damages to the estate of the deceased by negligent or wrongful act done against the deceased.

As per the Act, the plaint should disclose all particulars on behalf of the deceased and the particulars of the incident and documents that are necessary for the suit or any legal proceedings that are instituted by him. The purpose of this Act is to provide appropriate compensation upon legal proceedings for loss caused to the deceased and his families upon claim made by any person as representatives of the dependants. While providing such compensation, certain principals of multiplier should be reckoned. This was based on Fizabai Vs Nemi Chand (AIR 1993 MP 79). Wherein, it was concluded that loss of dependency is not the sole heads of compensation. A detailed discussion was made with regard to the calculation of multipliers for each and every heads of compensations that are to be provided.

This Act provides a fruitful obligation while reading with Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 to provide award of “Just Compensation” that differs case to case as mentioned in the case of Sardar Ishwar Singh Vs. Himachal Puri (AIR 1990 MP 282). The maintainability of claim on distress suffered by wife could not be claimed on representative capacity by her husband. As he can claim either under Fatal Accident Act or under Motor Vehicle Act as discussed in M.L.Singhal Vs. Dr.Pradeep Mathur (AIR 1996 DEL 261).

In assessing the loss caused to the deceased who died in a fatal accident, several aspects have to be considered. The quantum of compensation should match the uncertainties of Life and loss transpired due to it. Allowance should be made for uncertainties and the amount of compensation should also be reduced. So, matter of assumptions and presumptions while assessing the compensation for damages caused will have a crucial impact. This was clearly discussed in M.P.State Road Transport Corporation, Bairagarh, Bhopal Vs Sudhakar (AIR 1977 SC 1189). In this case it was discussed to look into the uncertainties of life and the accelerated payment receiving by the husband. If he receives accelerated compensation on his wife’s death then that will be a clear boom for him. So, it was decided to think about several aspects while calculating compensation for damages caused by fatal accident.

Several Acts and provisions were enacted in favour of the loss occurred to the dependants of the deceased who died in motor Accident. Inorder to give separate focus towards fatal accident that are increasing, there were several Fatal Accident Act has been enacted with lots of amendments and modifications. Likewise, Fatal Accidents Act, 1946 which was finally amended and repealed by Fatal Accidents Act, 1976. Though several Acts and amendments on fatal accidents exists , due to several contingencies the legislature could not fulfill the purpose of its enactment.