Quality issues and focus on deterrence are among the key factors that have prompted the apex court to rule in favour of the consumer
Despite all the safety measures, sometimes things don’t work as expected. Mechanical, electrical and electronic systems can fail even when they may have passed all the necessary checks and safety tests in a lab environment. Something similar happened to a Creta owner when the airbag failed to deploy in an accident.
Injuries due to non-deployment of Hyundai Creta airbags
It has been a long journey for Creta owner Shailendra Bhatnagar to finally get justice in the case. The incident dates back to November 16, 2017 when the owner had met with an accident while driving his Creta 1.6 VTVT SX+ on Delhi-Panipat highway. The car was purchased in August 2015 and it had two airbags at the front. The owner had chosen this variant, as he was looking for improved safety.
In the accident, significant damage was recorded on the right hand (RH) front roof, RH front pillar, RH door panels, side body panels and left hand front wheel suspension. As the airbag didn’t deploy, the owner suffered injuries to the head and chest. Dental injuries were also recorded. According to the owner, the injuries were directly linked to the non-deployment of airbags.
As it was a major lapse, the Creta owner filed a case in Delhi State Consumer Redressal Commission. The state commission ruled in favour of the owner and ordered Hyundai to pay Rs 3 lakh as compensation. It included Rs 2 lakh for medical expenses and loss of income, Rs 50k for cost of litigation and another 50k for mental agony.
This decision was later challenged in the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC). But NCDRC also ruled in favour of the owner. NCDRC also asked Hyundai to provide a new Creta to the complainant. Subsequently, the decision was challenged in the Supreme Court. And now, the verdict has come out in favour of the Creta owner, once again.
On their part, Hyundai India’s counsel argued that replacement of the vehicle was not part of the compensation originally demanded by the complainant. As such, it should not be considered. The counsel also said that the accident involved a side collision and not a frontal hit as claimed by the complainant.
It was further argued that airbags are deployed based on a pre-determined force threshold. If the force is less, the airbags will not deploy. As such, the counsel claimed that there was no defect in the airbag system.
However, the Supreme Court judges pointed out that there was significant damage to the front section of the SUV. They reasoned that injuries could have been reduced if the airbags were deployed during the accident. The judges also noted that enforcing punitive damages is necessary to achieve the desired deterrent effect. The apex court upheld the judgement of NCDRC in full including replacement of the vehicle.