How to take civil action (when victimized)…

How to take Civil Action
Isaiah on his third trip to the hospital for neck injuries. Photo via The Electric New Paper

As you already know, my friend Isaiah recently became victim of road rage. I was pissed, especially since cases of personal assaults seem to be on the rise in Singapore, often with victims unable to get immediate help from the police. I sought to find an answer to this apparent problem.

Yesterday, the Electric New Paper published their interview with Isaiah which revealed his personal account of what happened. Little did I know that Isaiah could have been paralyzed from this attack. Apart from his heart-wrenching story, the article also provides some quick tips from lawyers about taking civil action:

Lawyer Arul Chelvan said victims of road rage can make a magistrate’s complaint or hire a lawyer to do it.

He said: ‘The magistrate will decide whether an offence has been committed. If yes, the magistrate will ask the accused to appear in court to answer the charges.

‘Then, the lawyer will take the role as the prosecutor and police, and conduct the case. And if the accused is convicted, he can be jailed or fined depending on the offence.’

Lawyer Gloria James said the magistrate can direct the police to investigate.

She said: ‘By filing a magistrate’s complaint, the judge can direct the police to look into the matter again to give him feedback. So, it’s not a lost cause.’

Mr Aman Aljunied, a senior executive with the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, said that when faced with an angry driver, one should just stay calm and not respond.

The former motorcycle racer for 15 years said: ‘There are angry drivers every where. If you respond, you are going down to their level. And things may get worse.

‘Think of your family before you get into trouble. It’s not worth it.’

The police have this advice on how to deal with road bullies.

Note down the vehicle number and file a police report.

Remain calm and do not agitate the road bully with exaggerated gestures, expressions or behaviour. Do not engage in a face-to-face confrontation with him.

Call 999, remain in the vehicle and secure the doors until the police arrive.

So there you go… the police won’t have to act after the assault takes place unless a civil case is brought up, which can be weeks or months later. I wonder if would be any different if the assault took place right in front of them. As you can see, the legal system isn’t perfect as there’s always a chance that such perpetrators would have long fled by the time they were called to court. Either way, it’s important to know what you can do under such circumstances.

UPDATE 1: More discussions about this over at the Sammyboy forum
UPDATE 2: See a blogosphere roundup about this on Otterman Speaks…

4 thoughts on “How to take civil action (when victimized)…

  1. according to someone who experienced it before, if the police actually sees the assault taking place, they can arrest him on the spot, so if u “sucker” him into takin another punch while police are present, the case is usually quite straightforward.

  2. It is an outrage that the attacker was not arrested at the scene, and he had the audacity to sit and wait for the police to arrive, sneering at me while waiting.

    The case is classified as 323, voluntarily causing hurt, which is a non-seizable offence, when it should actually be 325, voluntarily causing grievous hurt, for which the police can arrest the assailant.

    The police are not in a position to classify the level of physical hurt the victim has suffered at the scene of a crime. Even the Doctors in hospital need to conduct an X-Ray.

    Thus I strongly feel that the officer at the scene should not classify the case until the A&E Dept has conducted the necessary checks.

    Also, the Penal Code needs some adjustment. A shoplifter or a pickpocket can be arrested at the scene, while a Road Bully can walk away scot free after bashing the victim up.

    Are our material possessions more important than our physical well-being?

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