KUANTAN: A Sessions Court here awarded RM9.8mil to a 10-year-old girl paralysed from the waist down because of a road accident.
It is believed to be the biggest amount ever awarded for an accident claim.
Sophia Isabel was only two years and three months old when the car she was in, which was driven by her mother, was involved in a head-on collision with a lorry at the 67th kilometre of Kuantan-Maran road on Jan 3, 1999.
GROWING GIRL: Mansheel Kaur helping Sophia to move along in her wheelchair outside theKuantan Sessions Court yesterday. — Bernamapic
She, together with her parents and two elder brothers, were on their way back to Kuala Lumpur after a holiday at a resort in Kijal, Terengganu.
Judge Sarimah Hashim read out the decision yesterday awarding a total of RM9,821,909.88, which included special damages, pre-trial and post-trial costs and injuries suffered by Sophia.
The suit was filed in 2001.
The defendants, Heng Fook Yong and Engw Chin Tai of Kuantan Crane, and their counsel, Edward Chin, were not present to hear the court’s decision.
Sophia, represented by Mansheel Kaur, was in her wheelchair and stayed outside the courtroom during the proceedings.
When met after the decision, Sophia’s father, who declined to be named, said Sophia had lost all senses from the waist down and would need to be looked after for the rest of her life.
“She is growing and her mother cannot lift her any more. I am the one who cleans, bathes and carries her around but there will be problems when she reaches puberty,” the 40-year-old engineer said.
He added that he had to hire an assistant to accompany Sophia to school. He said all these would cost him between RM3,000 and RM4,000 a month.
“The wheelchair she is using now is her fourth, and she needs to change such equipment as she grows,” he said.
“I have taken loans, mortgaged the house and borrowed money from family members for the past eight years to keep things going for her.”
Sophia attends an international school because it is disabled-friendly, he added.
Her father said Sophia’s spinal injury caused her backbone to slant to 68 degrees and she would have to undergo corrective surgery in the United States next year.
She also required medication for her skin problems.
On the court’s decision, Sophia’s father said he was satisfied but could not help wondering when he would he get to see the money.
Mansheel Kaur said justice has been served.
“The court has sent a clear message that one cannot cripple a person and simply leave the person just like that. Victims must be rightfully compensated,” she added.
Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2006/12/30/girl-gets-rm9m-award/#bcqKF71auJMY1wBr.99