SINGAPORE: A Thai woman who suffered from severe burns after a mishap at a restaurant on Beach Road eight years ago has been awarded S$110,500 by the court. The then-29-year-old woman sustained burns in several parts of her body and needed medical treatment, including surgeries in the aftermath.

Ms Najai Benchawan had been having a meal at Chong Qing (Origin) Steamboat on 87 Beach Road on Apr 4, 2015, with a friend in the early morning hours when a gas cartridge exploded in a stove on a nearby table, which sent hot soup and ingredients hurtling toward her.

Despite Ms Najal’s endeavour to protect herself by covering her face with her hands and turning away food coming toward her, she ended up with first and second-degree burns on her upper body and thigh. In addition, her eyes were also injured due to the mishap.

She poured cold water over herself after the blast and was brought to the hospital for medical treatment. But she was not the only person who was hurt in the explosion, as four other women were injured as well, including Ms Linda Er, who had been sitting at the table where the canister exploded.

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Ms Er suffered severe burns due to the mishap and later filed claims against the restaurant. In 2020, District Judge Lim Wee Ming found Chong Qing (Origin) Steamboat restaurant liable for damages and ordered the eatery to foot her hospital bills and pay damages for pain, suffering, and income loss.

Ms Najal stayed in the hospital for around ten days but needed to return periodically for another half year for additional treatment. Aside from painful scarring on her wrist and shoulder, Ms Najal’s eyesight had been affected by the blast until June of that year. She received two months of paid medical leave and then returned to Thailand. After the mishap, she gave up her career as a performing artist in Singapore and worked as a tour guide.

A deputy registrar in the judgment in her case, which was released earlier this week, was quoted in CNA as characterizing the explosion “horrific incident that would change the course” of the Thai woman’s life.

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Like Ms Er, Ms Najal filed a lawsuit for damages against the restaurant and the supplier of the gas cartridges. She said in her suit that she’s been in a lot of pain since the accident and has had to pay S$19,500 for her medical bills in Singapore. A medical expert also said on her behalf that her scarring is likely permanent.

While Ms Najal had only asked for S$55,000 in general damages for pain and suffering, it was determined by the deputy registrar that she had “undervalued her claim.” She then upped her claim to S$70,000.

The court, however, awarded her S$110,489.38, including S$70,000 for pain and suffering and loss of amenities, S$20,000 for loss of earning capacity, and another S$20,489.38 in special damages for medical expenses in Singapore and Thailand. /TISG