Uncle found 65 per cent liable for injuries of girl who was flung out of van during crash, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Uncle found 65 per cent liable for injuries of girl who was flung out of van during crash

This article is more than 12 months old

An eight-year-old girl was severely injured in 2020 after she was flung out of a van when a speeding car collided with it.

She had been in the van’s rear cargo compartment, which had neither seats nor seat belts.

A High Court trial was held to apportion liability between the two defendants – her uncle, who had been driving the van, and the driver of the car, Mr Vincent Chui.

In her written judgment issued on Tuesday, Judicial Commissioner Teh Hwee Hwee apportioned 65 per cent of the liability for the girl’s injuries to the uncle, while Mr Chui was apportioned 35 per cent.

The judicial commissioner said: “The first defendant was irresponsible and reckless to place an eight-year-old child in the rear cargo compartment of his van that was not meant to carry passengers. 

“He also knew that the rear cargo compartment of the van was not fitted with seat belts and that passengers travelling in his van are required to be belted.

“Although he might not have intended to do so, he was in effect betting on a safe journey and placing the plaintiff (the girl) at grave risk of serious injury, which unfortunately materialised.”

The issue of costs will be heard on another date.

The girl cannot be named, as those below 18 years old are covered under the Children and Young Persons Act. Thus, her uncle also cannot be named, to protect her identity.

Shortly before the crash on Oct 23, 2020, the uncle was driving his niece and other passengers from a temple event near Woodlands to the girl’s home.

He made an authorised U-turn in Woodlands Avenue 12 to get to the Seletar Expressway.

But before the U-turn could be completed, Mr Chui’s car, which could be seen in video footage speeding along the road, collided with the van.

The van spun before it mounted a nearby kerb, and the girl was flung out of the vehicle.

She suffered multiple disabilities, including reduced higher-order language skills, inability to use her right hand functionally, and deformities in both ankles. She was placed on medical leave for 277 days.

The plaintiff, a minor whose father and litigation representative sued on her behalf, had submitted, among other things, that the uncle was negligent in allowing the child to travel in the rear cargo compartment, which was designed for cargo and not passengers.

As for Mr Chui, the plaintiff submitted that he had driven beyond the 70kmh speed limit, which contributed to the collision.

In her judgment, the judicial commissioner said: “The first defendant argued that the second defendant’s excessive speed played a major part in causing the collision... Further, the collision could have been avoided if the second defendant had travelled at the speed limit of 70kmh or even up to 99kmh.”

The uncle then sought a 55 per cent to 44 per cent apportionment against himself and the second defendant respectively.

The second defendant, however, submitted that his liability should not exceed 20 per cent and that the uncle should be fully liable for the collision.

Among other things, Mr Chui felt that the uncle negligently exposed the girl to a higher risk of injury by allowing her to travel as an unbelted passenger in the rear cargo compartment.

In earlier proceedings, the uncle had pleaded guilty to one charge of driving without reasonable consideration for other road users. He was fined $2,500 and disqualified from holding or obtaining all classes of driving licences for a period of a year.

Mr Chui had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of speeding and was fined $800.

COURT & CRIMEaccident