Thursday, November 16, 2017

Jay Mitchell Smith completed 5.5 hours at a recreational flight school: Would have gone on to earn a "a very good salary" as a commercial pilot had it not been for the vehicle accident

Jay Mitchell Smith outside the State Courts on November 10, 2017.

SINGAPORE: An Australian national who was hit by a car belonging to Resorts World Sentosa in 2011 reached a $750,000 settlement with the company on Wednesday (November 15), despite initially seeking damages of $6.7 million.

Jay Mitchell Smith, now 31 years old, was crossing Orchard Road when the car driven by Abdul Rahim Mohd Akhbar hit him.

Mr. Smith then flung onto the windscreen of the car, shattering it. He was rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital with head injuries, where he had to have part of his skull removed.

The Australian, who was on a holiday, later sued RWS and the driver. He received $231,841 for claims including pain and suffering and medical expenses for two surgeries.

However, he sought another $6.7 million from the defendants for the loss of future earnings as well as the loss of his earning capacity.

The settlement comes after both parties went to trial over this amount earlier this month.

Mr. Smith’s lawyer, Ms. Cecilia Lee Thomas, said then that it was her client's dream to be a pilot and fly jets. His father is a former pilot and now an authorised flight examiner with Scoot Tiger, while his younger brother is a junior first officer with Scoot Tiger, she told the court.

Ms. Lee Thomas argued that Mr. Smith, a landscaper at the time of the accident, had a 100 percent chance of obtaining his commercial pilot license, and also a 100 percent chance of obtaining employment at a commercial airline.

But as a result of the accident, he lost his chance to be a commercial pilot as well as his fallback job as a landscaper because of "physical and residual disabilities" which prevent him from working outdoors.

Ms. Lee Thomas said Mr. Smith's loss of future earnings was settled at $1,071,428.50 but was reduced by 30 percent as Mr. Smith had accepted some fault for the incident. 

She added that this settlement was reached after Mr. Smith, his expert psychologist, two aviation experts and a decorated aviator took the stand to testify that Mr. Smith "would definitely have gotten his pilot license".

Mr. Smith wanted closure and did not want to inconvenience witnesses who would take the stand this week, such as the former Chief Pilot of Tiger Air and current Scoot executives, his lawyer added.

Ms. Lee Thomas said Mr. Smith and his family wanted closure after "seven long years to get to this stage".

In July 2012, Mr. Smith went for another surgery when he was back in Sydney, undergoing a left titanium and acrylic cranioplasty to protect his brain where his skull had been removed. He continues to suffer from head sweats and severe headaches during summer when the titanium plates heat up and in winter when they contract. He has also lost memory and executive function, Ms Lee Thomas said.

The defendants’ lawyers, K Anparasan and Sharon Lin, argued that Mr Smith's brother’s and father’s occupations are irrelevant as it did not mean that Mr Smith would follow in their footsteps and go on to become a pilot with Scoot Tiger. They also said that Mr. Smith could, at best, be described as a flying enthusiast who completed 5.5 hours at a recreational flying school.

The four-day trial was attended by Mr. Smith’s family members.

Mr. Anparasan said on Wednesday that the settlement amount was reached after negotiations factoring head injuries and residual disabilities, the disadvantage Mr. Smith will be in the labor market as well as the loss of opportunity to be a commercial pilot.

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