Victim's severe PTSD leads to record payout of $8.65m damages
Lawyers point out that a large chunk of compensation was for hospital fees
An injured cyclist was awarded a record $8.65 million in damages by the High Court on Monday, but lawyers said not every plaintiff in such negligence cases would receive a similar amount.
Ms Siew Pick Chiang, now 42, was struck by a bundle of overhead cables at a construction site on Oct 15, 2009.
Aside from minor physical injuries, Ms Siew suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that was so serious it led to a "litany of medical issues".
Ms Siew had originally sought $26 million from the site's main contractor Hyundai Engineering & Construction, which was found 100 per cent liable by Justice Woo Bih Li, who eventually awarded her $8.65 million.
What was unusual about the case was that Ms Siew suffered from PTSD and the medical conditions that arose because of it, said Mr Kirpal Singh, of Kirpal & Associates, who was not involved in the case.
He noted she was admitted at least 18 times to Gleneagles Hospital or Mount Elizabeth Hospital after the accident.
"This would mean the hospital bills (for which she was awarded more than $2 million)were huge in itself," he told The New Paper.
Justice Woo also awarded Ms Siew, who has since stopped work as a teacher, $1.08 million for the loss of her future earnings over the next 15 years.
The judge inferred she would have worked till 72 and halved the period to take into account the benefit of accelerated payment and contingencies of life.
Mr Raphael Louis of Ray Louis Law said each case is judged based on the extent of a plaintiff's injury, age and occupation.
He advised accident victims to consult a lawyer early to help calculate the losses suffered.
Mr Satwant Singh of Satwant & Associates said plaintiffs must be realistic.
"You must be able to deliver using facts and evidence, and not just put up a preposterous claim just to try your luck.
"Just because someone got $8.65 million does not mean you are also entitled to over a million."
A 12-year-old, who suffered severe head injuries in 2011 after a taxi crashed into a railing that then fell on him in Whampoa Road, received $1.52 million in damages from the driver's insurer in a court-sanctioned deal.
A 13-year-old boy, who was left a quadriplegic after being knocked down by a car in 2011, was awarded $1.64 million by the High Court.
The boy, then nine, suffered severe traumatic brain injury when he was knocked down at a signalised pedestrian crossing in Jurong East Avenue 1 on July 6 that year.