A goods vehicle is not supposed to carry any passengers under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. According to Section 2(14) of the MV Act, a ‘Goods Vehicle’ means ‘any motor vehicle constructed or adapted for use solely for the carriage of goods, or any motor vehicle not so constructed or adapted when used for the carriage of goods’. So if any person travels in a goods vehicle and it meets with an accident, the Vehicle Insurance Company is not liable to compensate for his injury or death, as he is an illegal passenger.
However, Clause (c) of Proviso to Section 147 of MV Act, carves an exception to the above general rule for passengers who are employees or a workmen, traveling in the course of their employment. Section 147 makes it mandatory for the vehicle insurance company to cover for motor accidents that occur to employees/workmen traveling in a good vehicle.
This interesting facet of law was discussed by the Kerala High Court in National Insurance Company v. Mohammed Ali and Others (M. F. A. No. 211 of 2010), wherein the award passed by the Regional Labour Commissioner under Workmen’s Compensation Act, in favour of the workmen making insurance company liable, was challenged. The court held that in an third-party insurance policy, the “contract of insurance must provide for coverage in respect of death or bodily injury caused to three categories of employees viz 1) Drivers engaged employees 2) Conductors of a public service vehicle or person examined as ticket examiner 3) any person carried on a goods carriage”.
So any employees/workmen traveling in a goods carriage, on accident, is entitled to seek compensation from the Vehicle Insurance Company for their injuries suffered.