Principle of Composite Negligence be followed in a third party claim: SC

A Large Bench of the Supreme Court of India clarified that where the claimant is a third party (other than the driver/owner of the vehicles involved in the accident) the correct principle for determination of the liability is that of composite negligence which would make the drivers/owners of the two vehicles jointly and severally liable.

The Court said that the principle of contributory negligence so as to apportion the liability between the drivers/owners would be relevant only if the claim for compensation is by one of the drivers himself or by his legal heirs, as the case may be.

The Court said, “Where the plaintiff/claimant himself is found to be a party to the negligence the question of joint and several liability cannot arise and the plaintiff’s claim to the extent of his own negligence, as may be quantified, will have to be severed. In such a situation the plaintiff can only be held entitled to such part of damages/compensation that is not attributable to his own negligence.”

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