Mumbai: A motor accident claims tribunal has ordered the owner of a Honda City and an insurance company to pay over Rs 90 lakh to the parents of a young animator working for actor Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, who died five years after an accident in 2012 that left her bedridden with 90 per cent permanent disability.
Charu Khandal, then 28, who had worked as lead animator in the film Ra. One, was travelling in an autorickshaw with her sister and the latter's fiance on the midnight of March 25, 2012, from Juhu to Malad. The trio were returning after a celebratory party to mark the national award for best special effects bagged by the movie. At a junction on Oshiwara Link Road, their auto was hit by a Honda City and turned turtle, seriously injuring everyone inside.
Khandal suffered spinal cord injuries, which left her quadriplegic. She was in a private hospital for three months. She had lost bladder and bowel control and had to use diapers.
Car-owner Manoj Gautam did not appear before the tribunal despite being sent notice. The insurance company said in its written statement that two vehicles were involved in the accident and hence it was a case of contributory negligence. It also disputed that there was a connection between the accident and Khandal's death afterwards and claimed Khandal may have died of pre-existing ailments. It pointed out that no post-mortem was conducted.
Tribunal Chairman SC Chandak relied on the FIR and other police documents such as the spot panchnama and spot sketch map to conclude that the accident took place due to the car. A government hospital’s disability certificate assessed Khandal’s disability at 90 per cent. Her discharge summary showed that she was in spinal shock and had to undergo a spinal cord injury rehab programme. At the time of discharge, her only stable parameters were her heart rate and blood pressure.
To determine whether the death could be attributed to the accident, the tribunal considered the cause of death certificate, which had recorded the cause as “septic shock due to traumatic quadriplegia”. “On careful consideration of the evidence...I found that immediately after the accident till the death, the deceased was in quadriplegic condition..because of this medical condition the deceased remained bedridden in a morbid condition...In individuals with paralysis, sepsis might begin with urinary tract infection. Both sepsis and septic shock are life-threatening.”
It held that there was causal connection even though not immediate, between the injuries sustained in the accident and Khandal's eventual death.