Singapore—A woman who lost her job after a gas canister exploded in her face at the end of a hotpot meal has been awarded $100,000 in damages by the court.
The accident occurred six years ago, on Apr 4, 2015, at Chong Qing Steamboat in Beach Road.
The victim, now 45, had just started at a full-time job as a supervisor at a bar in Seah Street, which paid $2000 a month and would have allowed her to support herself and her mother.
Ms Linda Er had only been working at the bar for one week when the accident occurred.
Unfortunately, she had to give up her job after the mishap, as she required extensive surgeries afterwards due to the severe burns on her face and the upper part of her limbs.
The accident occurred at the end of a meal at Chong Qing Steamboat where she had dinner with one of her colleagues.
The New Paper (TNP) quotes Ms Er as saying, “I usually finished work at about 4.30am, but that night I knocked off at 3 am. So my colleague and I decided to treat (ourselves) to supper.”
In the middle of their supper, the switch on the portable gas stove began to malfunction, tripping three times. The waitstaff at the restaurant then wadded some tissue into the switch compartment to keep it from tripping again.
She told TNP that she saw the fire on the gas stove had gone out, but did not bother to re-light it as they had finished eating and were getting ready to leave.
“All of a sudden, there was a bang and (the gas canister) exploded. I was so shocked that I didn’t even realise my face (had been) burned.
“It was only after someone pointed it out that I touched my face and realised my skin had come off and my eyebrows were gone.”
Thirteen per cent of Ms Er’s body sustained flash burns. This included the third-degree burns on her face and her upper limbs.
Ms Er was taken to Singapore General Hospital, where she was confined for nine days, requiring medical treatment at the department of Plastics, Reconstructive and Aesthetics Surgery.
She told TNP that her skin was so blackened by the burns she did not even recognise her own face.
Her 15-year-old son and her mother were shocked to see her appearance.
Her mom, who works as a coffee shop assistant, helped support her during her recovery. “She cooked for me and bought me bird’s nest. She insisted on it despite me telling her it was too expensive,” she told TNP.
Besides follow-up treatments, she also needed to stay indoors for months after the mishap to ensure that her skin would not get damaged further.
She found employment as a travel agent after the mishap, even getting a full-time job in 2017. However, exposure to the sun on the job caused her to quit a few months after.
She has been working as a freelance travel agent since then.
But her income dropped because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She now lives with her mother in a Serangoon flat, while her son is in national service.
Last May, the restaurant where the mishap occurred was found liable for negligence. Because of the wad of tissue paper the waitstaff had inserted into the stove’s switch, the safety lever that would have shut off its gas supply could not work.
Liberty Insurance, the restaurant’s insurer, as well as Chong Qing Steamboat, will pay Ms Er $100,000 to cover her medical bills, pain and suffering, as well as her income loss.
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