Man gets smaller payout over car crash

He gets $123,000 in $1.3m suit; loss of future earnings claims 'unjustified'

A Navy communications specialist who sued a colleague, seeking $1.3 million after he was blinded in one eye in a car accident, will get a much smaller $123,000.

The High Court found his claims for loss of future earnings were unjustified.

Although Mr Hanrence Loo suffered loss of sight in one eye in the accident, it did not lead to career loss and he was promoted two months ago, the court found.

Mr Loo's colleague Yaw Chien Lik, now 31, crashed the car into a canal on West Coast Road on May 12, 2009 at about 4am.

Mr Loo, now 26, suffered serious head injuries and spent two weeks in hospital after being pulled unconscious from the car.

He sued Mr Yaw for negligence. In a hearing in June last year, Mr Yaw accepted 75 per cent liability for the accident.

Hearings to assess the damages payable to Mr Loo were held in June this year before Assistant Registrar Janice Wong who, last week, issued grounds on the $123,000 payable to Mr Loo.

He had sought compensation for various medical expenses, pain and suffering incurred, as well as losses in future earnings.

Of the $1.3 million, $763,000 was for loss of future earnings, based on his current salary.

His lawyer Deepak Natverlal accepted that despite his injury, he had progressed in his work and was promoted recently. But he argued this did not mean Mr Loo would not be sidelined or have his services terminated in the future.

He would be at a disadvantage in getting an equally well-paid job elsewhere, the lawyer said.

It was also pointed out that Mr Loo could no longer be deployed for work on a vessel at sea and was now land-based.

But lawyer Niru Pillai argued for the vehicle insurers that Mr Loo had not shown there was job loss for him to make out a claim for loss of future earnings.

Ms Wong agreed, noting that a Navy official had testified servicemen are assessed on their performance and potential, and physical limitation is not a relevant factor.

She found there was no real or substantial risk that Mr Loo would lose his job before the end of his working life.

Mr Loo kept doing the same kind of work as before the accident except that he was no longer assigned to work on board a ship.

Other than losing the $200 monthly allowance for working on a ship, there was no other evidence he would have earned more but for the accident.

Ms Wong awarded Mr Loo $40,800 for the loss of this allowance in the future and rejected the $763,000 sought.

She awarded about $151,000 in general damages including $50,000 for head injuries and $35,000 for the blinded eye. Another $13,000 was awarded for special damages such as pre-trial loss of earnings and medical treatment.

The total sum amounted to about $164,000 and the $123,000 awarded to Mr Loo was 75 per cent of this sum, as agreed.

Asked if he would appeal, his lawyer yesterday said his client was considering the matter.