Singaporean woman killed in 2018 Malaysia bus crash: Family awarded $650,000

Ms Serina Mat Idris with her husband in August 2018 (left). Ms Serina was flung out of a tour bus in an accident in December that year. PHOTOS: YUSRY MAT IDRIS, NEGERI SEMBILAN FIRE AND RESCUE DEPARTMENT

SINGAPORE - The family of a woman, who died after being flung out of a tour bus in a 2018 accident in Malaysia, will get about $650,000 in compensation as the case concluded before the High Court.

The court, which issued brief oral grounds earlier this month on damage assessment, took into account the Singaporean's life expectancy and career retirement age in determining the claims sought by her estate.

Ms Serina Mat Idris, then 27, was on her way to Genting Highlands to celebrate her third wedding anniversary with her husband, baby boy and other family members when the accident took place on Dec 7, 2018.

Ms Serina, then a pre-school educarer, was seated in the front row of the double-decker tour bus when the impact of a collision with a lorry in Negeri Sembilan caused her to be flung out through the front window, resulting in fatal injuries.

Two years later, her husband Ahmad Sumidja Masiran sued bus owner Transtar Travel and the driver for damages.

In December 2020, the defendants accepted 100 per cent liability for the death and hearings to assess damages were held last year before Justice Kannan Ramesh.

Mr Sumidja, represented by lawyers Niru Pillai, Rapinder Kaur and Phang Cunkuang from Niru & Co, sought claims for loss of dependency such as earnings she would have contributed to the family upkeep and loss of inheritance such as funds that would have accumulated in her Central Provident Fund (CPF) account had she lived.

Transtar, through its lawyer Chan Chin Ling from Dentons Rodyk, agreed with the broad method of assessment for the claims but differed on the specific inputs, noted Justice Kannan.

The judge accepted her retirement age would have been 62, after hearing both parties, and took into account her increased income as she would have been promoted to senior educarer this year.

At the time of her death, she was an educarer at a branch of a chain of pre-schools, Sparkletots.

The judge awarded $522,228 for the loss of dependency claim, computing the sum based on her projected annual income earned after tax, based on five progressive bands from age 27 to age 62.

Justice Kannan noted that both parties agreed the son is still a minor and would be considered a dependant until he reaches the age of 25.

He accepted that once the son reaches 25 and is no longer a dependant, then the deduction from Ms Serina's net salary should increase to 33 per cent from 25 per cent.

The percentage deduction is to reflect that part of the salary Ms Serina would have used as personal expenditure.

The net salary after deduction is then used to derive the base figure to be multiplied when computing the sum to be awarded for loss of dependency.

The judge divided Ms Serina's career into five stages based on her age and income to compute the total dependency.

For instance, the first stage comprised the years 2018 to 2022, when she would have been between the ages of 27 and 31, and held the position of educarer.

As the son would still be a dependant, the annual figure would be $18,530.98, representing 75 per cent of her annual income.

"Based on the actuarial tables, the multiplier would be four years. This gives a total figure of $74,123.92," he said.

The remaining four stages covering 2022 to 2053 were computed along the same principle, taking into account her progress to senior educarer and her son not being a dependant on reaching age 25.

In relation to the loss of inheritance claim, the judge awarded $103,953 after deducting $213,000 for the monies Ms Serina would have placed in the Basic Retirement Sum and the housing loan she would have paid from her CPF.

Mr Sumidja had sought $316,953 for loss of inheritance before the $213,000 deductions were made.

The judge awarded about $24,000 for the remaining miscellaneous expenses such as costs for letters of administration.

He called for both parties to make submissions on costs payable.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.