Surviving passenger in car crash that killed fellow NUS undergraduate sues cabby, driver over negligence

Surviving passenger in car crash that killed fellow NUS undergraduate sues cabby, driver over negligence

Accident Commonwealth Avenue West by Clementi Road
The crash happened at the cross junction of Commonwealth Avenue West by Clementi Road. (Photo: Roads.sg/Facebook)

SINGAPORE: A passenger who survived a car crash that killed an undergraduate and injured two others is suing the drivers behind the wheel of the two vehicles involved for unspecified damages.

Ting Jun Heng, 24, is suing 56-year-old taxi driver Yap Kok Hua and 23-year-old driver Ng Li Ning for negligence over a crash in April 2018 that flung him out of the cab, leaving him badly injured.

The civil trial opened on Tuesday (Jun 16) and comes after Yap was convicted of criminal charges and sentenced to eight weeks' jail in August last year. He was also banned from driving for five years. Ng's case is pending in the State Courts.

READ: Taxi driver jailed over crash that killed NUS undergrad Kathy Ong

Mr Ting, then in his first year of university, was in Yap's cab with three friends - Ms Kathy Ong, Mr Zon Lim and Mr Lim Jin Jie - on the way to the National University of Singapore's Tembusu College on the night of Apr 19 two years ago.

At a signalised cross junction of Commonwealth Avenue West by Clementi Road, Yap made a discretionary right turn when Ng Li Ning's vehicle was approaching from the opposite direction at a high speed.

The resulting crash threw Ms Ong partially out of the window, while the other passengers suffered injuries. Ms Ong, who was 19, later died in hospital.

Mr Ting was taken to the National University Hospital with traumatic brain injury and possible post-injury seizure, Yap's court documents said. 

He was initially in a vegetative state, but recovered and suffered fractured ribs, a kidney laceration and multiple pelvic bone fractures.

He was hospitalised for 54 days and later referred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for rehabilitative treatment.

According to documents filed by Mr Ting's lawyer, Ramasamy K Chettiar of Central Chambers Law, Mr Ting regained awareness within three months of the accident.

He still required aid in walking and showering in December 2018, eight months after the accident.

His studies were deferred for at least a year, and he received treatment including robot-aided arm therapy, suffering medical complications during rehabilitation such as an infection and anaemia.

CLAIMS OF NEGLIGENCE AGAINST THE TWO MEN

Mr Ting is claiming that Yap was negligent in several ways, including: Failing to keep a proper lookout, driving at an excessive speed, failing to observe Ng's vehicle approaching, failing to give way to Ng's vehicle, turning across the path of Ng's vehicle when it was dangerous to do so, failing to reduce his speed when approaching the junction, causing the collision and failing to avoid the collision.

The list of Ng's alleged acts of negligence include: Driving at an excessive speed, failing to observe Yap's taxi turning right, failing to give sufficient warning of his approach, failing to reduce his speed when approaching the junction and causing the collision.

Mr Ting, who was 22 at the time of the crash, is claiming unspecified damages. However, court documents list certain special damages incurred to date such as medical expenses of about S$86,700, transport expenses of S$1,650 and miscellaneous expenses of S$30,000 for items such as a wheelchair, a mobile commode and portable bed rail.

His losses of pre-trial earnings, future earnings and future medical and transport expenses are to be assessed.

THE DRIVERS' DEFENCE

Yap's lawyers Teo Weng Kie and Shahira Mohd Anuar of Tan Kok Quan Partnership deny that the collision was caused by any negligence on Yap's part as per Mr Ting's claims.

They claim in Yap's defence that the collision was "caused solely and/or contributed to by the negligence of (Ng) in the driving, management and control of (Ng's) car".

They claim that Ng was driving at an excessive speed and failing to pay sufficient heed to Yap's taxi at the junction.

Yap's lawyers also put Mr Ting to strict proof of his allegation of serious injuries, and claim that Mr Ting's "own negligence" while in Yap's taxi caused or contributed to his injuries.

This "negligence" includes failing to wear his seatbelt and failing to keep a proper lookout for his own safety while travelling in Yap's cab.

Ng's lawyer, United Legal Alliance's Anthony Wee, argued in his client's defence that the lights were green in Ng's favour.

Yap turned right "suddenly and without warning", said Mr Wee, not giving Ng sufficient time to react, slow down or apply the emergency brakes.

Mr Wee is arguing that the negligence of both Mr Ting and Yap caused or substantially contributed to Mr Ting's injuries, pain, loss and expense.

The trial continues for the rest of the week.

Source: CNA/ll(nc)

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