Section 166(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act applies to dependents, even if the said dependent is the second wife of the deceased: Madras High Court

The Madras High Court passed a judgement on 10th of April, 2023 in which it upheld the compensation given to the second wife of the deceased under Section 166(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. This was seen in the case of Susila and Ors. v. S. Thirumalai and Ors. (C.M.A(MD)No.681 of 2019) and the case was presided over by The Honourable Mr. Justice R. Vijayakumar


The appellant, was the first wife of the deceased. After the motor vehicle accident in which the husband passed away, a total compensation of Rs. 11,59,000 was awarded. A sum of 3,00,000 was given to the first and the second wife together. The son of the deceased through the second wife received Rs. 4,00,000 and the father of the deceased received the rest.

The first wife contended that the second marriage happened when the first was still subsisting and hence is void ab-initio. Thus, the second wife or her son should not be entitled to any compensation.


The learned single judge after listening to the contentions of both parties upheld the compensation given to the second wife of the deceased under Section 166(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The court moved on to explain how the claim for loss of dependency worked. Under Section 166(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the claimant’s claim is based on only one deciding factor that is if the person has lost their dependency.

Even legal heirs cannot claim under this provision if they are not dependent on the deceased. The court after verifying the required documents found that the deceased was living with the second wife at that point. The claim for compensation was upheld bu the court made it clear that this doesn’t entitle the second wife any claim in the property of the deceased and doesn’t vest in her any rights of the kind.

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