Crash victim's estate awarded $2m for misery

A judge has awarded more than $2 million to the estate of a Light Rail crash victim who suffered 'absolute misery' before dying from an illness that attacked her nervous system.

Ku Lai-kwan, 38, a garment worker, suffered serious injuries in the 1994 crash in Tuen Mun. But they were not life-threatening and had appeared to be healing, said Mr Justice Conrad Seagroatt.

However, within three or four months of the accident her health began to decline and continued to worsen until she died in March last year.

'It is impossible to appreciate the state of hopelessness and despair which must have set in,' Mr Justice Seagroatt said.

'Persistent decline, dependency on others, little if any realistic hope of relief, must have made her life one of absolute misery, however resilient her nature.

'She must have known too that there was never any realistic chance of reversing her state and responsible medical opinion could never have held that out to her as a possibility.' The judge ruled a chain of events started by the crash, including tetanus injections, were responsible for Ku developing Devic's syndrome, which led to blindness and paraplegia.

'Either the injuries themselves or the contamination or the necessary tetanus toxoid injections, collectively or individually led to the development of Devic's syndrome,' said the judge.

Light Rail train driver Tang Leung, who died in the crash, shared responsibility for Ku's death, he said.

Mr Justice Seagroatt said: 'The defendants are liable for the deteriorating and ultimately fatal consequences of these injuries and illness. The train driver's estate, represented by China Insurance Company Ltd, will be liable to pay $2,081,525.

Ku's husband, Lai Ping-wah, brought the action as the representative of her estate.

The accident occurred on September 10, 1994. Ku was in a coach that collided with the train and was one of 45 injured. She suffered head wounds and lost consciousness.

Dr Huang Chen-ya, called on behalf of Mr Lai, told the court Ku's injuries, the effect of tetanus injections and the fact that she was covered in oil for many hours after the accident, may have contributed to the onset of Devic's syndrome.