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Car owner files damages claim

Owners of several cars damaged by the driverless tram that ran through traffic at Ballygunge Phari on Thursday morning reached Gariahat police station on Friday to know how to file for compensation, a process distinct from insurance claims in motor-accident cases.

Mitali Dasgupta, whose Ford Fiesta was among the cars left mangled by the tram, lodged an FIR that paved the way for the police to draw up a motor collision report (MCR).

Any claimant to compensation in such a case apparently needs an MCR to proceed further, though Mitali doesn’t know yet what she is supposed to do next. “I went to the police station, they accepted my complaint and handed me the MCR. But I have no clue what is the next step. I only know that I am entitled to compensation…. I am not going to claim car insurance,” she said.

The other car owners who had turned up at the police station returned after making enquiries about what is usually a long-winding process involving a tribunal. The good news is that the Calcutta Tramways Company is ready to pay compensation to them.

“We will bear the cost of repairing the damaged vehicles. A claimant needs to apply to the CTC for compensation, narrating the incident. Our team of engineers will assess the nature of damage (to the vehicle) and we will arrive at a compensation amount after mutual discussion,” Nilanjan Shandilya, managing director of the CTC, said.

The company’s law officer has been asked to start the process immediately.

If any demand for compensation is not settled mutually, it reaches a tribunal dealing with motor-accident claim cases. The MCR is mandatory to file a claim.

“An MCR means that a collision has taken place and the police have confirmed it by drawing up a case under the IPC,” said a senior officer of the traffic police. “Usually, for an MCR, a case is drawn up under Section 279 of the IPC that deals with rash and negligent driving. In the tram case, an additional charge under Section 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) could be added.”

The deputed tribunal hears a case and grants or rejects a compensation claim after studying the gravity of the injury or damage caused by the accident. In the event of a fatal accident, compensation is usually worked out keeping in mind the number of active years the deceased would have had and the amount of money he or she would have earned in that period.

Mitali, a resident of Kasba, said she hadn’t contemplated going to court while deciding to file for compensation. “That would take ages.”

Kaushik Bhattacharya, whose eight-month-old Renault Scala was damaged in the pile-up triggered by the driverless tram, said the prospect of a long haul stopped him from going to the police like some of the others did on Friday. “I haven’t contacted the CTC yet to seek compensation because I suspect it will be a time-consuming process. I have spoken to my insurance company and will be getting an estimate on Monday, based on which I will take a call on what to do,” he said.