Access to compensation for road accident victims

Published : 25 Feb 2023 08:31 PM

Bangladesh being world’s 8th most populous country in the world accommodates almost 2.2 per cent of global population which according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), August 2022 consensus translates to more than 169 million people. Such humongous population remains mobile on a regular basis and during rapid commuting our pedestrians are frequently encountered with horrendous road accidents. According to World Health Organization (WHO) World Health Ranking 2020, Bangladesh has ranked 88th among 183 countries in terms of road accident death rate which numerically translates to 16.74 per cent per lakh. 

There are plethora of culprits of road accidents among them unauthorized vehicles and lack of knowledge for road safety can be considered primary causes. On the contrary road accident being a common phenomenon in Bangladesh paves way for numerous social, psychological and legal inconveniences to the masses. One of them is lack of compensation for the road victims. 

This social issue has gained further traction recently after the codification of the much awaited Road Safety Rules 2022 which implemented crucial provisions of the BRTA (Bangladesh Road Transport Authority) Act 2018, and further gave recourse to granting compensation to the road accident victims.  

When someone is victimized by road accident, it is ethically and legally incumbent upon the perpetrator who’s liable for the road accident to reimburse the victim properly. But in our country it is excruciating for the victimized families to seek compensation because it often comes with several bureaucratic formalities which the poor families of the victims are unable to perform. And when such appeals for compensation aren’t facilitated, it creates perpetual torment for the impoverished family members of the victims. 

Likewise claims of compensation could only be redressed upon filing costly writ petition with the High Court Division which itself is time consuming and often imperceptible. So it goes without saying that the swift entitlement of compensation for the road accident victims is a timely need for the victimized community. 

When it comes to awarding compensation for road accidents , BRTA Act 2018 prescribes that in order to compensate the dead or injured road accident victims a financial assistance fund would be prepared which would be headed by a trustee board and this board would upon each complaint basis would allocate and award compensation to the claimant. But the procedural aspect of this provision was absent until the framing of the Bangladesh Road Safety Rules 2022, which subsequently elaborated on the procedural stages to avail compensation by the victims or claimants. 

According to the newly framed rule, Chapter 8 specifies that the claimant of the compensation would be eligible to obtain 1 lakh to 5 lakh of monetary compensation and individual can claim it after one month of the accident. There will be a 12 member trustee board and the chairman of the BRTA would be the head of the board, this board will be responsible for probing each compensation claims. Any concerning individual would apply to the board which would further arrange a hearing and within a month it would give decision on the claim.  

Alternatively the claimant can file the appeal before the secretary of the Roads and Highways Division (RHD), who would dispose the claim within a month after filing it.  Finally any party aggrieved by the decision of the appeal can apply for a search committee which will nominate a neutral arbitrator who may be a retired secretary or a district judge or anyone of similar status who would further legally aid the claimant within 45 days. 

So the newly framed BRTA rules prescribed a laudable legal framework for obtaining compensatory relief by the road accident victims which consists both administrative and ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) recourses. These provisions made access to compensation by the road accident victims easier for the claimants. And previously due to the absence of the relevant rules seeking compensation by individual was a plight for the claimant. 

In conclusion Bangladesh regularly envisages stark increase in road accidents. According to Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity projection in 2022 alone 6,749 road casualties occurred which was highest since 2015. So these huge number of deaths on roads create a social void and the cry of the victim family to get justice and thus awarding compensatory relief to the victims of the road mishaps forms a predominant part of socially acceptable egalitarian justice system. So it is time for the government to implement the compensatory relief mechanisms for the road accident victims and make access to such claim equal and convenient to all classes of victims of road conflicts. 

Samiur Rahman is LL.B. (Hons) and LL.M. from 

Jagannath University