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Fatal Accidents Act, 1855

1A. Suit for compensation to the family of a person for loss occasioned to it by his death by actionable wrong

Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would (if death had not ensured) have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, the party who would have been liable if death had not ensured, shall be liable to an action or suit for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances as amount in law to felony or other crime.

Every such action or suit shall be for the benefit of the wife, husband, parent and child, if any, of the person whose death shall have been so caused, and shall be brought by and in the name of the executor, administrator, or representative of the person deceased; and in every such action, the court may give such damages as it may think proportioned to the loss resulting from such death to the parties respectively, for whom and for whose benefit such action shall be brought, and the amount so recovered, after deducting all costs and expenses, including the costs not recovered from the defendant, shall be divided amongst the before-mentioned parties, or any of them, in such shares as the court by its judgment or decree shall direct.

Comment: But in assessing damages certain other factors have to been taken note of which the High Court overlooked, such as the uncertainties of life and the fact of accelerated payment - that the husband would be getting a lump sum payment which but for his wife's death would have been available to him in driblets over a number of years. Allowance must be made for the uncertainties and the total figure scaled down accordingly. The deceased might not have been able to earn till the age of retirement for some reason or other, like illness or for having to spend more time to look after the family which was expected to grow. Thus the amount assessed has to be reduced taking into account these imponderable factors. Some element of conjecture is inevitable in assessing damages; AIR 1977 SUPREME COURT 1189, M.P. State Road Transport Corporation, Bairagarh, Bhopal v. Sudhakar

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