Crash victim praised for excelling in studies despite severe injuries

Ms Tan Shi Lin, 36, suffered injuries after a road accident on Dec 26, 2012.
Ms Tan Shi Lin, 36, suffered injuries after a road accident on Dec 26, 2012. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

Despite serious accident injuries, a judge said a physiotherapist "commendably pursued" and earned a first-class honours degree in physiotherapy.

Senior Judge Lai Siu Chiu was presiding over a recent High Court hearing to determine the compensation for Ms Tan Shi Lin, 36, who suffered injuries after a road accident on Dec 26, 2012.

Senior Judge Lai said Ms Tan had "excelled" and obtained the degree from the School of Medicine in Trinity College Dublin in June 2014.

Just 19 months earlier, a bus had slammed into the left side of her body, causing her to fall off the motorcycle she was riding. The wheel of the bus then ran over her left foot. Her left big toe and later her second toe had to be amputated and she needed a transfer of skin and muscle from her left thigh to cover the defect.

Ms Tan, who was working as a physiotherapist at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital at the time, sued bus driver Poh Che Thiam, who had admitted 100 per cent liability in 2014.

The five-day assessment trial earlier this year included seven medical professionals to determine the quantum she should get.

Ms Tan, who spent 42 days in hospital in total, suffered from skin- graft donor-site and wound infections, noted the judge. She also had to be on crutches or in a wheelchair for about six months after her discharge from hospital in February 2013 due to delays in healing.

PAINFUL ROAD TO RECOVERY

The injuries also left unsightly scars and keloid formation due to skin grafts she had undergone, not to mention the constant pain she must endure daily from her left foot as well as the compensatory pain she suffers from her right foot and lower back.

SENIOR JUDGE LAI SIU CHIU

Her lawyers, Mr Richard Tan and Mr Fendrick Koh, sought about $725,000 in general damages for pain and loss of amenities, medical expenses and loss of earning capacity, among other things. She also claimed about $51,000 in special damages.

Defence lawyers Patrick Yeo and Neo Eng Hong had argued that Ms Tan should get just over $152,000 in total, but Senior Judge Lai said this was "a figure which reflects a complete lack of sympathy for the plaintiff's unfortunate circumstances".

She said Ms Tan suffered horrific injuries and the amputation of her left big and second toes affected her work as a physiotherapist.

"The injuries also left unsightly scars and keloid formation due to skin grafts she had undergone, not to mention the constant pain she must endure daily from her left foot as well as the compensatory pain she suffers from her right foot and lower back," added the judge.

The judge addressed each of the items individually in the 48-page judgment grounds issued last week and awarded Ms Tan a global sum of more than $480,000, with interest to be computed as prescribed.

K. C. Vijayan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Crash victim praised for excelling in studies despite severe injuries'. Print Edition | Subscribe