Error in calculating loss of earning capability
Guwahati: The Gauhati High Court set aside an order of the Commissioner, Workmen’s Compensation, Golaghat, which directed the Insurance Company to pay Rs. 4,99,152/- to a driver who suffered injuries as a result of an accident, on the ground that the Commissioner has erroneously accepted the loss of earning capacity of the claimant to be 100% in disregard for the principles contained in Section 4(1)(c) of the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923, and erred in assessing the amount of compensation.
The case of the respondent-claimant before the single-judge bench of Justice Kalyan Rai Surana was that on July 3, 2008, while performing his duty as a driver, his truck had a head-on collision with another truck, which was being driven in a rash and negligent manner, and as a result of the accident, he sustained a comminuted compound fracture (a bone that has been broken in three or more places) of the right leg (both bones), fracture injuries on both legs, and multiple body injuries. He was admitted to the hospital and given treatment.
The respondent claimed that he was 26 years of age and getting a monthly salary of Rs. 4,000 per month, excluding his daily allowance. It was also claimed by the respondent that he was totally disabled and rendered unfit for doing his job as a driver, and accordingly, he claimed compensation for a sum of Rs. 5,16,672/- under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923.
The Commissioner, Workmen’s Compensation, vide the impugned order dated July 9, 2010, and on the basis of the opinion of the Medical Board, which assessed the physical disability of the respondent as 50% and the loss of earning as 100%, awarded a sum of Rs. 4,99,152/- to the respondent with an interest rate of 9% per annum on the quantum of compensation from the date of filing of the claim petition.
The HC was to determine whether the learned Commissioner erred in assessing the amount of compensation by erroneously accepting the loss of earning capacity of the respondent-claimant to be 100%. The Court observed that when the functional disability of the respondent was assessed at 50% because of a fracture suffered in his leg, loss of earning capacity could not be assumed at 100% in every employment that he was capable of undertaking at the time. The Court further noted that the nature of injuries that the respondent had suffered, i.e., fractures in the leg, appears to be an injury that is not covered either by Schedule-I, Part-I, or by Schedule-I, Part-II of the EC Act.
Therefore, the Court set aside the impugned order passed by the Commissioner, Workmen’s Compensation, Golaghat, dated July 9, 2010, and remanded the matter back to the Commissioner, Employees’ Compensation, Golaghat for a fresh decision by taking into account the nature of the injury and determining compensation in accordance with law.