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Burns victim gets $100,000 in court-approved settlement

Burns victim gets $100,000 in court-approved settlement

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 29 Mar 2021
Author: K.C. Vijayan

Ms Er suffered flash burns on some 13 per cent of her total body surface area, which included the right and left upper limbs and five fingers due to the incident.

A diner who suffered serious burns after a gas canister exploded at a hotpot restaurant will get a $100,000 settlement from Chong Qing (Origin) Steamboat and its insurer.

The damages cover Ms Linda Er's hospital bills, pain and suffering, and income loss following the mishap on April 4, 2015. She had suffered third-degree burns on her face and upper limbs when dining at the restaurant with a friend.

Chong Qing and its insurer, Liberty Insurance, are also required to pay Ms Er's legal costs.

The settlement was reached earlier this month on the day a hearing to assess the damages payable to Ms Er, 45, was set to begin.

A court had last year found the restaurant in Beach Road liable for negligence and ordered its insurer to foot the compensation bill.

Ms Er had testified that the switch on the portable gas stove she and her friend were using to cook food had tripped repeatedly. A restaurant waitress inserted some tissue into the switch compartment to stop the tripping.

The court had noted that this switch is the safety lever of the stove, which activates upon pressure build-up in the gas canister, ejecting the canister and shutting off the gas supply.

Stuffing paper into the switch thus prevented this safety mechanism from working, and resulted in the gas canister exploding.

State Courts deputy registrar Joanne Leong issued the consent judgment between the parties in the case.

Ms Er suffered flash burns on some 13 per cent of her total body surface area, which included the right and left upper limbs and five fingers.

She was warded for nine days at the Singapore General Hospital and treated at the Plastics, Reconstructive and Aesthetics Surgery department.

Recalling how she looked at the mirror on the first day in hospital just before she was wheeled in for surgery, she told The Straits Times: "When I first saw my burnt face in the hospital, I could not recognise myself." She said she had been sedated and slept for several hours on the first day, before waking up and was readied for surgery.

After several months of follow-up treatment, she said she is now unable to carry heavy loads and has to be careful to stay out of the sun, to avoid skin damage.

She added that she now has a phobia for gas canisters that are used for steamboat food, and she now avoids such restaurants.

Ms Er, who was represented by Hoh Law Corporation lawyer Jogesh Doshi, said she accepted the settlement as she wanted to move on and not prolong the anxieties through more days in court.

"This has been a long wait of over five years, and the settlement ends all the uncertainty of not knowing how this will end, which has been a burden on me all this time," she said of the settlement. "When I walked out of the court, I felt relaxed for the first time because everything is behind me."

She felt the sum would still not cover the losses of her earnings had she been working full-time over the last five years. "I could not work for a long while, and later did work as a temporary part-time helper," added Ms Er, who has a son serving national service.

"I am lucky as my mother, who is a coffee shop assistant, as well as my aunt and friends, helped support me during this difficult time."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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