Injured cyclist gets $8.65m damages in record payout, down from $26m sought

Ms Siew Pick Chiang, who was struck by a bundle of overhead cables that fell without warning, was awarded $8.65 million in damages by the High Court.
Ms Siew Pick Chiang, who was struck by a bundle of overhead cables that fell without warning, was awarded $8.65 million in damages by the High Court. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A cyclist struck by a bundle of overhead cables that fell without warning was awarded $8.65 million in damages by the High Court.

It is understood to be the biggest payout in such a negligence claim.

Ms Siew Pick Chiang, now 42, suffered relatively minor physical injuries, but the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was so serious that she has been warded for more than two years.

The mishap occurred when she was cycling on a public pavement along Pasir Ris Drive 8 on Oct 15, 2009. The cables that hit her originated from a nearby worksite for which Hyundai Engineering & Construction was the main contractor.

Justice Woo Bih Li found Hyundai to be 100 per cent liable for the accident after a hearing in May 2014. The second phase of the case involved how much she should get in compensation for her losses, including medical treatment and suffering.

The assessment hearings took place over two tranches during 2015 and this year.

She was admitted at least 18 times into Gleneagles Hospital or Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

"She was warded there for more than two years at a stretch, and I understand, still remains warded there," noted Justice Woo in decision grounds issued on  Dec 1.

Ms Siew, through her lawyer Chong Pik Wah from Wong, Thomas & Leong had sought $26 million in special and general damages, which included medical and hospital expenses.

United Legal Alliance lawyer Michael Eu for Hyundai argued the "staggering" $26 million claim "was 13 times the highest award of damages by a Singapore court for a personal injury claim and was a figure that should give anyone pause for thought".

The judge said it was not disputed that Ms Siew had a " host of medical issues" arising from her PTSD.

"Furthermore, it appears that she was in reasonably good health before the accident, that is, the contrary was never suggested," added Justice Woo.

The $8.645 million, pared down from $26 million, included sums for loss of future earnings, present and future medical costs as well non-medical expenses.