SINGAPORE – It was a fine Sunday morning two days after Christmas in 2009 and cycling enthusiast Michael Loke was riding alone along the three-lane Keppel Road.
He didn’t know it then, but it was a moment that was going to change his life – and that of his family’s – forever.
Mr Loke was hit by a lorry.
Despite wearing a helmet, the accident caused severe brain injury and left him paralysed from the neck down.
Mr Loke also suffered multiple fractures and is completely blind from corneal scarring.
He is now bedridden, unable to stand, sit or walk, speech-impaired and has no voluntary control of his bladder, among other problems.
At the time of the accident, Mr Loke, then 52, was in the prime of his life.
A project director with construction and civil engineering firm Shimizu Corporation, the father of four was earning a monthly salary of $12,200 – enough to support his wife and family in an HUDC apartment in the east.
“Our lives have never been the same (since the accident),” said Mr Loke’s wife. Madam Jannette Hoy.
“He can’t swallow food – we have to puree it. He can’t even drink water – we have to thicken it with gum so that he doesn’t choke. His throat muscles don’t work anymore.”
A civil suit was launched, but midway through the trial, in February this year, the lorry driver’s insurer agreed to pay Mr Loke around $1.6 million on 100 per cent liability.
Mr Loke’s lawyer, Mr Cosmas Gomez, had put in a claim of about $3.5 million for future out-of-pocket expenses, excluding pre-trial expenses, which had totalled $183,113.
The bulk of it – about $1.9 million – was for the loss of future income.
This was based on the fact that Mr Loke had about 13 years of employment before he reached the retirement age of 65, and his monthly income of $12,200.
Court papers The New Paper obtained said: “If the accident had not occurred, the plaintiff’s income would have increased in his continual employment with his company, and in the next five years, he would have achieved much more (than) the present amount he is getting in view of his attitude and abilities.
“Moreover, he was well-liked by his superiors and was highly looked upon by them for a job well done, always.”
Other expenses included physiotherapy over 12 years ($129,600) and daily necessities totalling $216,000, for items such as adult diapers and wet wipes for the rest of his life.