SMRT to bear 95% of blame for woman's bus fall

Ex-bus driver M. Ezar M. Hassan pleaded guilty in January 2013 to causing grievous hurt by a negligent act. Mr You Bujia said he stopped running his business and is looking after his wife, Madam Ding Weibo, full-time. While she can walk and talk, she
Mr You Bujia said he stopped running his business and is looking after his wife, Madam Ding Weibo, full-time. While she can walk and talk, she can only do so slowly, he said. She has not left the flat in the past four years except for exercise.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO
Ex-bus driver M. Ezar M. Hassan pleaded guilty in January 2013 to causing grievous hurt by a negligent act. Mr You Bujia said he stopped running his business and is looking after his wife, Madam Ding Weibo, full-time. While she can walk and talk, she
Ex-bus driver M. Ezar M. Hassan pleaded guilty in January 2013 to causing grievous hurt by a negligent act.

Woman's fall in bus fractured her skull, led to coma

SMRT will bear nearly all of the blame for an accident in which a woman hit her head and fell into a coma after the bus she was in stopped suddenly.

The transport operator and former bus driver M. Ezar M. Hassan yesterday agreed to shoulder 95 per cent of the responsibility for the 2011 accident. Madam Ding Weibo, the victim, will carry 5 per cent.

The agreement was reached yesterday, the same day the matter was set to go to trial.

Madam Ding, 58, who filed the suit last year, with her husband You Bujia as her legal representative, was not in court.

Mr You, 62, who attended, with their daughter, 30, declined to reveal how much the family was seeking from SMRT, saying that he was leaving that to his lawyer Tito Isaac.

The lawyer said: "We are still in the midst of quantifying the damages."

If SMRT contests the amount of damages, a separate hearing will be held to decide how much it should pay. Mr You did, however, accept a handshake from Mr Ezar, after the defendants' lawyer Renuka Chettiar initiated a meeting between them. Both men shook hands without exchanging words.

Speaking to reporters, Mr You said that his wife, who fractured her skull and suffered brain injuries, had to undergo two operations. The first was to remove a section of her skull due to her brain swelling. The second, done a year later, was to replace the skull section with metal plates.

She woke up only a few weeks after the accident.

While she can walk and talk, she can only do so slowly, he said. She has not left their flat in the past four years except for exercise.

Mr You said he has stopped running his import and export business to take care of her full-time.

The family of three, who are originally from China, are permanent residents and have lived here for more than 15 years.

Madam Ding and her daughter Xiao Sui had boarded Service 167 in Orchard Road outside The Heeren shopping mall on Dec 18, 2011.

The bus moved off as they were walking towards the available seats. It then stopped suddenly and Madam Ding lost her balance, hitting her head against the metal bar of one of the seats.

After emergency surgery, she was in intensive care for about two weeks. She was moved to a rehabilitation ward on Jan 6, 2012, and discharged on Feb 4, 2012.

A criminal charge was brought against Mr Ezar for causing grievous hurt by a negligent act. He was fined $4,500 after pleading guilty in January 2013.

Last year, a Thai teenager lost her court fight to seek damages from rail operator SMRT and the Land Transport Authority over a train accident that caused her to lose both legs. The High Court found that the defendants were not liable as Ang Mo Kio MRT station was reasonably safe.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'SMRT to bear 95% of blame for victim's injuries'. Print Edition | Subscribe