Section 166 Of Motor Vehicle Act

by SMCIB on Thursday, 29 February 2024

Section 166 Of Motor Vehicle Act

In India, the Motor Vehicles Act (Motor Vehicle Act) plays a vital role in ensuring road safety and addressing compensation for accident victims. This legislation outlines the process for victims to seek compensation for injuries, disabilities, or fatalities arising from motor vehicle accidents. Section 166 of the Motor Vehicle Act is particularly crucial, as it establishes the steps for filing compensation applications. This section serves as a legal recourse for individuals who have experienced harm due to the negligent or wrongful actions of motor vehicle owners or drivers, allowing them to claim the compensation they deserve.

What is The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988?

The Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, passed by the Indian Parliament, covers a wide range of aspects concerning road transport vehicles. It came into effect on July 1, 1989, succeeding earlier acts from 1914 and 1939. This law addresses various matters including conductor and driver licensing, vehicle control and permits, insurance, registration, traffic rules, liability, penalties, offences, etc. To implement the provisions of the Act, the Government of India established the Central Motor Vehicles Rules in 1989. The Act applies to the entirety of India, ensuring uniformity in regulations across the country.

The salient features of the Act are –

  • Public Welfare After Accidents
    The Motor Vehicles Act emphasises the well-being of the public involved in accidents unintentionally.
  • Third-Party Protection
    It ensures the welfare of third parties, encompassing those innocently involved in accidents caused by the negligent and reckless driving of others.
  • Comprehensive Coverage
    This Act thoroughly addresses all aspects related to vehicle transportation on roads, leaving no stone unturned.
  • Mandatory Motor Insurance
    The Act requires the possession of valid car insurance or two-wheeler insurance while driving on Indian roads. So, a third-party insurance policy is a fundamental and compulsory document.

Importance of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 holds significant importance in India as it oversees the usage and management of motor vehicles nationwide. Enacted to tackle various issues concerning road safety, traffic control, and vehicle operation, the Act serves several critical purposes –

  • Enhancing Road Safety
    The primary aim is to boost road safety by enforcing regulations on vehicle usage, setting driving standards, and imposing penalties for traffic law violations. This is vital for curbing road accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
  • Facilitating Traffic Management
    The Act lays out guidelines for efficient traffic control, encompassing traffic signals, road signs, and vehicle movement regulations. This ensures the smooth flow of traffic and reduces congestion on roads.
  • Licensing And Registration
    The Act outlines the steps to get driving licences and register vehicles. It ensures that only capable drivers and roadworthy vehicles are on the streets, promoting safety.
  • Insurance Obligations
    The Act requires third-party insurance for motor vehicles. This guarantees compensation for victims and their families in accidents, easing the financial strain on those involved.
  • Penalties And Offences
    The Act specifies punishments for different traffic violations to prevent wrongdoing. This fosters accountability among vehicle users and discourages risky actions on the roads.
  • Environmental Conservation
    The Act addresses vehicle emissions and pollution control, aligning with environmental priorities. It encourages the adoption of eco-friendly technologies and minimises the environmental footprint of motor vehicles.
  • Public Transport
    The Act oversees the control and organisation of public transport services, guaranteeing the safety and comfort of passengers travelling by buses, taxis, and similar vehicles.
  • Emergency Services
    Also, the Act offers guidelines for the mobility of emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks and ensures their prompt access on the roads during urgent situations.

Section 166 of The Motor Vehicles Act

Section 166 of the Motor Vehicle Act explains how to apply for compensation after a motor vehicle accident. It requires filing the application with the Claims Tribunal in the area where the accident happened. This rule used to be seen as restrictive, as it obliged claimants to submit applications only at the location of the accident.

Key Provisions Of Section 166

The essential points to be noted in Section 166 include –

  1. Claim Eligibility
    Compensation can be sought by anyone who has been injured or by the legal representatives of a deceased person.
  2. Time Limitation
    The application needs to be submitted within six months of the accident. In exceptional cases, the Claims Tribunal may consider applications filed after this period if there is a valid reason for the delay.
  3. Jurisdiction
    The tribunal that handles the application is decided by –
    • The place where the accident happened.
    • The claimant or defendant lives.
    • The place where the defendant's business is located.

How is The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 Important for Accident Victims to Avail Rightful Compensation?

As the number of vehicles on Indian roads rises and traffic congestion worsens, accidents become more frequent. These accidents often result in severe property damage, injuries, and even fatalities.

The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 serves as a legal foundation for addressing such incidents. It ensures protection for innocent victims, appropriate punishment for offenders, and adequate compensation for all affected parties. This Act not only sets standards for safer road conditions but also establishes a robust system for addressing accidents when they occur.

To obtain compensation under the Act, victims must apply to the Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal. Section 166 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 outlines who is eligible to claim through this tribunal in the event of a road accident.

Claims Under Section 166 Of Motor Vehicle Act

To seek compensation under Section 166 of the Motor Vehicle Act, the claimant can approach one of the following Motor Accident Claim Tribunals –

  • The tribunal in the area where the accident occurred.
  • The tribunal in the area where the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident resides.
  • The tribunal in the area where the victim resides.

Is There A Time Limit For Claiming Compensation?

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 does not specify a deadline for claiming compensation under Section 166. However, it is advisable to file the claim promptly to avoid any complications during tribunal proceedings. In case of an accident, the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal will grant compensation in the following circumstances –

  1. The victim suffers bodily injury from the accident.
  2. The victim suffers permanent disability due to the accident (This includes loss of sight or hearing, impairment of body function, or disfigurement of the head or face).
  3. The victim passes away due to the accident.
  4. The victim's property gets damaged or faces a loss due to the accident.

What Amount Can Be Claimed As Compensation Under This Act?

For compensatory claims, you or your insurance company is responsible for the following –

  • In the event of the victim's death, a minimum compensation of Rs. 50,000 is mandated.
  • If the victim suffers permanent disability, a minimum of Rs. 25,000 is required.

The Motor Accident Claim Tribunal has the authority to provide additional compensation to victims, determined case by case as deemed appropriate.

Offences Under Section 166 Of The Motor Vehicle Act

The violations that are covered by Section 166 of the Motor Vehicle Act include –

  1. Minors driving motor vehicles.
  2. Driving without a valid licence.
  3. Operating a vehicle while dealing with a medical illness or health issue.
  4. Driving a two-wheeler without wearing a helmet.
  5. Neglecting to wear a seat belt in a four-wheeler.
  6. Driving beyond the prescribed speed limit.

To Conclude

Section 166 of the Motor Vehicle Act offers a pathway to justice for those affected by road accidents. It ensures that victims or their families can seek compensation through the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT), regardless of where they or the defendant reside. This provision simplifies the process and provides a fair opportunity for those seeking recourse after facing the devastating consequences of a road accident.


  1. What does Section 166 rule mean?
    Section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 outlines the criteria for seeking compensation at the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) in case of a road accident.

  2. How can you claim under this Act?
    Imagine a scenario where a car owner loses control of their vehicle and causes a crash, injuring and even killing people. In such cases, two things can happen –
    • The law can take action against the person responsible for the accident (for causing injuries or deaths).
    • Victims or their families can seek compensation for their losses.
  3. Should I take pictures of the accident?
    Yes, if you are a victim of the accident, snapping pictures or recording videos of the scene is crucial. Even if bystanders capture visuals, it will help the police in understanding the incident and support ongoing investigations.
  4. Should I call the police from the accident spot?
    Yes, if possible, you should call the police. It is helpful because the call can be recorded and used as evidence afterwards.
  5. What does the supreme court say about Section 166?
    The supreme court clarified that claimants are not restricted to filing compensation applications solely where the accident happened. They can choose to approach the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) within the area where either they or the defendant live or conduct business.
  6. What is the contrast between Section 163A and 166 of the Motor Vehicle Act?
    Under Section 163A, claimants do not need to prove fault to claim compensation. But for Section 166 claims, they must produce proof of reckless or negligent driving.


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