Mother to get $500k for dead son's 'living costs'

Insurers' 'lifetime' offer binding as mum accepted before expiry: Judge

When motorcyclist K. Maran suffered brain damage in a road accident, insurers offered $500,000 to last him for life.

But before the offer could be accepted, he died.

Now, his mother will get to collect the full sum after the High Court ruled she was entitled to it - despite his death.

Justice Choo Han Teck said that making the insurers cough up "might result in an overpayment". However, this did not necessarily mean that the payment was unjust.

Mr Maran was 19 when his motorcycle collided with a car in July 2006. The accident, in Hougang Avenue 8, left him mentally disabled and incapable of managing his own affairs.

Insurers for the driver, Mr Teo Gim Tiong, accepted 40 per cent liability.

In September 2011, they offered to pay $500,000 to cover the victim's lifelong needs.

But he died the following March and his mother, Madam K. Pushpavathi, later got a court order making her the legal representative of his estate.

On the same day, Liberty Insurance decided to withdraw its offer. It gave Madam Pushpavathi 24 hours' notice, as required by court rules.

This allowed her just enough time to act. As the clock ticked down, the former office executive in her 50s accepted the offer - just 90 minutes before the deadline.

The insurers launched an appeal, arguing that they would be paying too much as the victim's death meant costs such as medical care no longer applied.

But their case failed at a district court earlier this year and has now been dismissed in a further appeal before Justice Choo. In judgment grounds issued yesterday, he said that Madam Pushpavathi had accepted the offer before it expired under court rules.

He added that both sides had come to a fair and just agreement, which became binding once it was accepted.

The judge pointed out that a victim who accepted an offer to settle but found out moments later that his injuries had worsened might not be able to change his mind.

This meant the same should apply to the insurers.

"I am of the view the principle must be applied both ways," added Justice Choo.

Madam Pushpavathi was represented by lawyer Susila Ganesan while the lawyer for the insurers was Mr N. K. Rajarh.