AT THE COURTS

Pedestrian hit by car awarded $2m damages

Muhammad Adam Muhammad Lee was due to start a computer engineering diploma course in 2015 when he was knocked down by a car that mounted the kerb.

As a result of the accident, Mr Adam, who is now 30, suffered severe and permanent injuries and became mentally incapacitated.

He tried twice, in 2017 and in 2020, to resume his studies but was unable to cope and dropped out of school.

On Wednesday, the High Court awarded him more than $2 million in damages in a suit that his mother and elder sister brought on his behalf against the driver, Mr Sean Tay Jia Rong.

Mr Tay's insurers had accepted 100 per cent liability for the accident but disputed numerous categories of claims.

The award included about $1 million for loss of future earnings, $216,000 for his traumatic brain injury, and $10,000 for loss of marriage prospects.

It also included $237,448.03 for medical expenses and $1,219.55 for loss of polytechnic fees.

There was also a claim for $10,000 in aggravated damages after the family learnt that the insurers had arranged for private investigators to take videos of Mr Adam.

Justice S. Mohan rejected the claim, noting that it was not uncommon for insurance companies to conduct surveillance on claimants who say they have suffered serious injuries.

Mr Adam was on a footpath along Hougang Avenue 2 when the accident occurred on April 3, 2015.

He suffered multiple skull fractures, bleeding in the brain and facial fractures, and underwent numerous procedures during his hospital stay of about 41/2 months.

He was seen by a slew of medical professionals, whose reports were submitted for the suit.

The subject of his employment prospects was a major point of contention.

The insurers argued that he will be able to undertake "light jobs" but his family said he can no longer work for the rest of his life.

Mr Adam's sister testified that he had tried to work at a bubble tea shop in 2017 but was asked to leave after three days, ostensibly because he was deemed to be too slow in his work.

Beginning in 2018, there were episodes where he was violent towards his family members.

A neuropsychologist said the outbursts were consistent with the behavioural symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury.

Mr Adam was also diagnosed with major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder. A psychiatrist said that while Mr Adam is able to perform basic activities such as bathing and eating, his ability to carry out important tasks which are fundamental for independent living has been substantially affected.

Mr Adam is unable to manage finances beyond small sums, unable to manage on his own with regard to cooking and healthcare, and unable to hold down a job, said the report.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2021, with the headline 'Pedestrian hit by car awarded $2m damages'. Subscribe