Man who had no motorbike licence still gets $690,000 in damages

ST VIDEO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Mr Aziz, previously an active man who worked two jobs, lives with his son, Mr Faizal, whose motorcycle he took despite not having a licence. The accident left Mr Aziz paralysed and with only one leg. Mr Faizal now cares for his father and takes him o
Mr Aziz, previously an active man who worked two jobs, lives with his son, Mr Faizal, whose motorcycle he took despite not having a licence. The accident left Mr Aziz paralysed and with only one leg. Mr Faizal now cares for his father and takes him out twice a week.ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Mr Aziz, previously an active man who worked two jobs, lives with his son, Mr Faizal, whose motorcycle he took despite not having a licence. The accident left Mr Aziz paralysed and with only one leg. Mr Faizal now cares for his father and takes him o
Mr Aziz, previously an active man who worked two jobs, lives with his son, Mr Faizal, whose motorcycle he took despite not having a licence. The accident left Mr Aziz paralysed and with only one leg. Mr Faizal now cares for his father and takes him out twice a week.ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Accident victim awarded $690,000 as van driver's duty of care precedes illegality

Rushing to his first grandson's first haircut ceremony - an important religious ritual - a motorcyclist without a valid licence took his son's motorbike to get there on time.

But a traffic accident on the way left Mr Aziz Dolah, 59, permanently disabled from the middle of his chest downwards.

He suffered severe head and spinal injuries in a noon collision with a van, which dragged him on Bedok Reservoir Road, in October 2011. His right leg was amputated after complications from the accident.

Mr Aziz sued the van driver, Ms Fadzila Syed Mohamed - who was also fined $800 for inconsiderate driving - for personal injuries and losses in court.

Following court-sanctioned talks, the parties came to an agreement on damages amounting to $690,000 for Mr Aziz, who used to hold two jobs - as a warehouse assistant by day and cleaner by night - before the accident.

Lawyers say the unusual case emphasised that the duty of care owed to the victim by the van driver took precedence over the fact that Mr Aziz was riding without a licence.

Ms Fadzila accepted 85 per cent blame for the accident in the civil suit.

A SMALL HELP

Although I am not sure if this court award will be able to cover all my expenses, I'm grateful for it. It doesn't change the state I'm in, but it helps financially.

MR AZIZ DOLLAH

Mr Aziz, through his lawyer, Ms Vivienne Sandhu, had claimed damages for pain and suffering, loss of earnings and medical costs, among other things.

Their agreement on the payout was inked by way of a court order issued by a State Courts deputy registrar last week. The sum comprised $504,000 in general damages, $96,000 for injury-related special damages and $90,000 in interest.

The move averted court hearings and witness cross-examination, which could have gone on for a week, to assess the damages payable.

Accident left him devastated

"Illegality is no bar to a claim in the circumstances of the case," said Hoh Law Corporation lawyer N. Srinivasan of his experience with such cases, noting that Mr Aziz's wrongful conduct was incidental to his claim against someone who had committed a serious wrong against him and was largely at fault.

Mr Aziz told The Straits Times yesterday that he had been taking motorcycle riding lessons and used his son's bike to try to get to the family event in Telok Blangah on time.

But as he was riding across a junction with the light in his favour in Bedok Reservoir Road, the van emerged from a side road and collided with him.

He was dragged along as the driver did not realise that she had hit him until a passer-by alerted her.

Mr Aziz's only child, food delivery rider Muhammad Faizal, 32, said: "We left my mother to handle the ceremony while we rushed to Changi General Hospital. We didn't think it would be so serious."

Mr Aziz, who is divorced and lives with Mr Faizal, said he was devastated and went into a deep depression while in hospital for more than six months.

He said he had been very active before the accident, playing soccer and sepak takraw with neighbours or swimming and cycling on his own. "Now I spend most of the time in bed, playing games on a laptop and spending time with my four grandchildren."

Mr Faizal also takes him out in a wheelchair twice a week.

"Although I am not sure if this court award will be able to cover all my expenses, I'm grateful for it. It doesn't change the state I'm in, but it helps financially,"said Mr Aziz.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2017, with the headline 'Man who had no motorbike licence still gets damages'. Print Edition | Subscribe