Court awards nearly $872k to man who suffered brain injury in crash, but rejects $420k maid claim

SINGAPORE - A 28-year-old man, who suffered brain injury after the motorcycle on which he was the pillion rider collided with a taxi, was on Monday (Dec 9) awarded damages of nearly $872,000 in the negligence suit he filed against his friend.

However, the High Court rejected Mr Danial Syafiq Mahbob's claim for $420,000 to employ a domestic worker to look after him.

Mr Danial Syafiq suffers from epileptic fits after the 2013 accident, and his mother told the court that someone should be on hand to ensure that her son was able to breathe if he suffers a seizure.

He also needed someone who could communicate with him, cook for him and remind him to take his medication, she said.

But Senior Judge Andrew Ang, in a written judgment, said Mr Danial Syafiq was able to carry on the activities of daily living, take public transport to go skateboarding with friends and even to take videos while doing so.

Justice Ang noted that the frequency of the fits had tapered off to just one episode in 2018. He also accepted medical evidence that the plaintiff was unlikely to stop breathing even if he suffered another seizure.

"In my view, it has not been proved on balance of probabilities that the plaintiff would need a domestic helper on account of his condition brought about by the accident," said the judge.

On April 17, 2013, merely days after he enrolled in a diploma course, Mr Danial Syafiq suffered traumatic brain injury in a crash between the motorcycle ridden by his friend, Mr Amin Juman Abdul Jabbar, and a taxi driven by Mr Mohammed Faizal Ismail.

In 2016, he sued both men but did not pursue the case against the cabby.

Mr Amin Juman agreed to bear full liability but pulled the cabby back into the case as a third party to contribute to the damages.

A report by Mr Danial Syafiq's neurosurgeon said the accident left him with life-long cognitive and memory problems.

He also has post-traumatic epilepsy, suffering 46 seizures from November 2013 to June 2018. Most of them occurred between 2013 and 2015, with six episodes in 2016, four in 2017 and one in 2018.

Justice Ang awarded a total of $671,873.50 in general damages, including for pain and suffering, loss of future earnings and future medical expenses. He also awarded $200,101.45 in special damages.

Mr Danial Syafiq had claimed loss of future earnings of between $730,080 and $1.26 million, while the defendant argued that he should get only damages for loss of earning capacity of about $75,000.

Mr Danial Syafiq's mother testified that, but for the accident, her son would have obtained an engineering degree from Australia and followed in the footsteps of his father, who owns an engineering services company.

But Justice Ang said the man's academic record did not support this contention - he enrolled with the BCA Academy for a diploma course in electrical engineering and clean energy because he would not have qualified for admission to a polytechnic in Singapore.

Mr Danial Syafiq was granted a deferment but eventually withdrew from the diploma course.

The award of $456,204 for loss of future earnings was on the basis that he would have obtained his diploma if not for the accident.

The special damages included $79,348.86 for medical expenses incurred and $113,728.59 for loss of earnings of Mr Danial Syafiq's mother, who took leave from work to care for him.

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