Woman, 45, receives S$100,000 compensation for severe burns from hotpot explosion after 6 years

She has since developed a fear of stoves with gas canisters.

Karen Lui | March 30, 2021, 03:11 PM

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A diner suffered severe burns when a stove suddenly exploded at a hotpot restaurant back in 2015.

Six years later, the 45-year-old victim finally reached a settlement agreement with the hotpot restaurant this month to be compensated S$100,000.

Woman suffered severe injuries from hotpot explosion

According to the report by Lianhe Wanbao, the accident happened on Apr. 4, 2015, at around 3am.

The explosion of the hotpot stove at Chong Qing Steamboat & BBQ Hotpot along Beach Road had injured five diners.

The diner who suffered the most severe injuries is 45-year-old Linda Er. Er suffered burns on 13 per cent of her total body surface area, including third-degree burns on her face and arms, Straits Times (ST) reported.

Left photo: Recent photo of Linda Er; Right photo: Er after hotpot explosion. All photos by Lianhe Wanbao.

Speaking to Wanbao, Er confirmed that both parties have reached a settlement agreement this month. Both the hotpot restaurant and its insurance company Liberty Insurance have to compensate her S$100,000 and foot her lawyer fees.

Pay medical bills & debts

Er accepted the settlement agreement as she wanted to move on, her lawyer Jogesh Doshi told ST.

According to Wanbao, Er shared, S$100,000 of compensation is insufficient to make up for the losses she had incurred over the past few years, including the costly medical bills, lawyer fees and the inability to work for quite sometime.

Er added that she was unable to work normally in the past six years and had to raise her son who is now serving National Service. Thus, she had to borrow money from her mother and relatives.

"I have to return the money, especially since my mother is already 68 years old. I do not wish to bring her more trouble," she told Wanbao.

If the stalemate persists, both the court and lawyer fees will continue to increase, which she may not be able to afford.

There will not be much left of the S$100,000 compensation after she covers the expenses and debts she had incurred from the past years. However, Er "felt relaxed for the first time because everything is behind [her]", she told ST.

Why did the settlement take so long?

According to Wanbao, Er had filed a lawsuit against the hotpot restaurant for negligence in the same year after the incident happened. However, the hotpot restaurant blamed the stove supplier instead.

It turns out that the incident happened because a server had stuffed some tissue paper into the switch of the gas stove to prevent it from tripping.

However the tissue paper hindered the safety mechanism from working, resulting in the explosion as pressure built up in the gas canister. Hence, the judge believed this incident has nothing to do with the diner or the stove supplier.

Furthermore, evidence has shown that the stove sold by the stove supplier adheres to safety standards and testing and is not liable for any compensation.

As the hotpot restaurant was insured, the insurance company was expected to cover the full compensation cost.

However, the insurance company insisted that the hotpot restaurant failed to supervise their employees, which allowed such an accident to happen in the first place, and therefore rejected to provide any compensation.

The judge pointed out that the hotpot restaurant did not tell the server to stuff tissue paper into the switch of the stove.

Hence, it was unfair to say that it was solely the hotpot restaurant's negligence.

As a result, the judge ruled that the insurance company has to provide compensation for the hotpot restaurant as well.

Fear of gas canisters

While the lawsuit has come to an end, the incident has left an emotional scar on Er.

Until now, Er still has a fear of gas canisters and does not dare to visit hotpot restaurants for meals.

She recalled that in the previous year, the lawyer brought three portable stoves to court and placed one in front of her.

"When I saw that stove, it gave me a fright. I felt uncomfortable and immediately asked the lawyer to place the stove further away from her," Er told Wanbao.

Six years on, she still feels a lingering fear when she sees stoves with gas canisters.

Top images by Lianhe Wanbao.