Compensation For Death, Injury: Road crash victims can now legally claim it
The family of a person killed in a road crash due to reckless or negligent driving will get at least Tk 5 lakh in compensation.
Those who lose a limb or suffer other forms of life-changing injuries will get Tk 3 lakh each, while the victims who are likely to recover from injuries and return to normal life will get Tk 1 lakh, according to the newly formulated rules of the Road Transport Act- 2018.
Compensation claims will be settled by a 12-member trustee board, which will be able to raise or lower the amount from time to time upon approval from the government.
The authorities issued a gazette on the rules on December 27, more than four years after the enactment of the act in September 2018.
Several sections of the law, including the one related to compensation, could not be enforced in the absence of the rules.
The rules, which took effect immediately, also mention how much money a vehicle owner must pay to the compensation fund regulated by the trustee board.
The board, led by the BRTA chairman, was formed in October 2022. But it could not perform its tasks in the absence of the rules that are supposed to regulate the fund and the board.
Under the new rules, there is a system of "demerit points" for traffic violations.
As per the act, there will be 12 points for each driver's licence and a traffic violation will result in deduction of one or two points. A licence will be revoked if a driver loses all 12 points.
The rules also re-fixed the fees for different services provided by Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA). The authorities increased many of the fees.
As per the act, conductors of large vehicles, popularly known as helpers, must have licences. According to the new rules, the conductors must have studied past class 5 and be aged over 20.
The Road Transport Act was passed by lawmakers following demonstrations for safer roads across the country in July and August of 2018.
But the law was not put into effect until November 2019 allegedly due to pressure from transport associations.
CONTRIBUTION TO THE FUND
Under the Motor Vehicles Ordinance-1983, victims or their family members could seek compensation at the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal for death, injury, and damage to properties caused in crashes.
The victims' chances of getting compensation were narrowed after the ordinance was repealed when the act came into effect in 2019. In rare instances, victims file writ petitions with the High Court seeking compensation.
As per the act, the government will create a fund for compensating and treating road crash victims and the fund will be created with a one-time or annual "contribution" from vehicle owners.
According to the rules, the owner of a bus, truck, lorry and semi-trailer truck will pay Tk 1,500 a year for the fund, while the fee is Tk 750 for a minibus, minitruck and pickup; Tk 500 for a car, SUV and microbus; and Tk 300 for a three-wheeler. A motorcycle owner must pay a one-time fee of Tk 1,000, read the rules.
The vehicle owners who fail to pay the fee on time will pay a fine of Tk 50 for each month of delay. With government permission, the trustee board may change the fees at times, it reads.
HOW TO GET COMPENSATION
Those seeking compensation will have to fill out a form and submit it to the trustee board chairman within a month of the road crash.
The chairman will form a probe committee within 10 days of receiving the application, and the committee will submit a report on the damages in a month, read the rules.
The board will take steps to compensate the victim within 30 work days of receiving the report.
An individual can file an application for review of the board decision within 30 days. The board, upon receiving the review prayer, will issue a notice for a hearing within a week and the board will make its decision within a month.
An aggrieved person can even file an appeal against the board's decision in a month and the secretary of road transport and highways division, will hear and resolve the issues in a month.
If anyone is aggrieved with the appeal decision, a search committee will pick an arbitrator who is a retired secretary or a district judge or an individual of a similar status, to solve the issue in 45 days.
The rules stipulated 13 offences for which a driver may incur demerit points.
A driver may lose two points for overloading and intentionally obstructing movement of other vehicles and one point each for 11 other offences.
A mobile court or a BRTA official not below the rank of motor vehicle inspector or police official not below the rank of sub-inspector sergeant can deduct the points. The official must have a photo or video footage of the offence and inform the driver and the authority immediately after deducting a point.
A driver can seek review of the decision within a month by paying a fee and the authorities will make a decision within a month.
If a driver does not violate any rules for six months, the authority can give back two points following an appeal.
But drivers will not be allowed to appeal for points for two years if they lose eight points.
BRTA Spokesperson Mahbub-E-Rabbani said the authority will start implementing the rules after putting in place the system.