Loses Case, Worker Who Sued Despite Compensation Offer Ordered to Pay $35K

August 14, 20179:52 am589 views

Feeling discontented, an injured worker who was offered compensation under the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) declined the sum and opted to sue in court instead. After investigation, he failed to prove his claim and now he must pay $35,000 in costs instead, Straits Times reports.

This case could be as an eye-opener for workers who intend to reject the compensation for workplace injury that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) offers them. The ministry has suggested such workers to “consider carefully” before they head off to court since the burden of proof there might be different.

The issue has sparked hot discussion across the nation. The case followed Chinese national Xu Zhenbing, as he claimed that he suffered injuries on his right wrist when he was working in a metal rebar project in a lift shaft at an Alexandra View worksite. When the accident happened in 2014, he was 43 years old at the time.

His employer Sen Lin Construction and Daewoo Engineering & Construction, presented the defense through lawyer Hong Heng Leong and questioned his claims in the High Court trial.

Last month, Judicial Commissioner Audrey Lim stated that Mr Xu has failed to prove, that “he was performing metal rebar works at a lift shaft on Sept 27, 2014”.

See: Negotiating on Pay: How to Hold Compensation Conversations?

The judge said that the records never indicated that the rebar works were done at the lift shaft. It was “more likely”, he added, that Mr Xun was working on rebar project at the water pipes as documented instead.

Mr Xu claimed that he had told a senior company worker at around 9 PM on the same day when the accident occurred, at the worker’s dormitory. However, the mentioned employee testified that he did not make such visit to the dormitory at the day, “much less on a weekend and so late at night”.

Additionally, Judicial Commissioner Lim also found it strange that the worker just told the doctor in January 2015 that the fissure appeared only about two months after he had hurt himself.

“Xu’s claim on how he sustained the injury rested essentially on his own oral assertions,” she added. The judge also made it clear that MOM’s findings on the case did not affect her findings, since there was no evidence on how severe the assessment was.

Represented by lawyer Eric Liew, Mr Xu was ordered to pay $35,000 for the legal costs.

Ms Kee Ee Wah, director of MOM’s Work Injury Compensation Department, said that WICA was a no-fault regime that admitted claims as long as the injury arose in the course of employment.

“The worker need not prove fault or negligence on anyone’s part,” she said.

In Mr Xu’s case, none of the four witnesses produced by the employer could show that the injury was not work-related and the claim was admitted.

Regarding that about 800 injured workers annually opt to withdraw their WICA claims and pursue their employers in court instead, Ms Kee urged injured workers to “consider carefully between claiming under WICA and filing a suit under common law, as the evidential requirements are different”.

Workers can still re-apply for Wica claims within a year of the accident after losing their lawsuit, but in Mr Xu’s case, the deadline has already passed.

According to MOM’s website, for accidents before Jan 1 last year, involving permanent incapacity, the compensation payable varies between $73,000 and up to $218,000.

Read also: Steady Compensation Increase for Corporate Real Estate Professionals Globally

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)