Family files B72m suit against police over pedestrian's death

Family files B72m suit against police over pedestrian's death

A woman holds up a rabbit sign, indicating motorists should stop, at the pedestrian crossing on Phaya Thai Road in Bangkok's Ratchathewi district where Waraluck Supawatjariyakul was hit and killed by a Ducati super bike ridden by a policeman on Jan 21. Kratai, or Rabbit, was Dr Waraluck’s nickname. (File photo: Apichit Jinakul)
A woman holds up a rabbit sign, indicating motorists should stop, at the pedestrian crossing on Phaya Thai Road in Bangkok's Ratchathewi district where Waraluck Supawatjariyakul was hit and killed by a Ducati super bike ridden by a policeman on Jan 21. Kratai, or Rabbit, was Dr Waraluck’s nickname. (File photo: Apichit Jinakul)

The parents of the doctor killed by a police motorcyclist on a zebra crossing in Bangkok have filed a 72-million-baht lawsuit against the Royal Thai Police Office (RTPO) and the junior officer who hit her last month.

Anirut Supawatjariyakul and his wife Ratchanee, the parents of ophthalmologist Waraluck Supawatjariyakul, and their lawyer on Thursday filed suit in the Civil Court against the RTPO and Pol L/Cpl Norawich Buadok of the Protection and Crowd Control Divison’s sub-division 1.

Pol L/Cpl Norawich was driving the Ducati that hit and killed Waraluck on a pedestrian crossing on Phaya Thai Road in Ratchathewi district on Jan 21.   

Lawyer Natthaphol Nichawong said they were suing the RTPO, as first defendant, and Pol L/Cpl Norawich, as second defendant, for violation of rights, and demanding compensation of 72 million baht plus interest from the date of the violation. The amount was for funeral rites and compensation for the family’s loss of their daughter.

The lawyer said the Civil Court would consider whether to accept the suit or not. The court set April 20 for discussion of issues in the suit. The defendants must show up at the court  that day, Mr Natthaphol said.

“The amount of damage has been evaluated from several factors, including the potential of Mor Kratai (Waraluck’s nickname) and how she, if still alive, would have contributed to the country and support of her parents.

"If she had worked until retirement, she would have earned around 300 million baht and would have paid at least 30 million baht in tax to the state. Academic and university lecturers jointly evaluated the damage," the lawyer said.

Asked by a reporter what the family could do if the policeman was unable to pay the demanded damages, Mr Natthaphol said the lawsuit named the officer's employer first  defendant as a guarantee of payment of damages.

If the court found against either or both defendants, the family would receive compensation, he said. 

Even if Pol L/Cpl Norawich could not afford compensation and the RTPO argued the incident was a personal matter, there was a link to performance of duty. Immediately before the crash, Pol L/Cpl Norawich had delivered important documents to the Metropolitan Police Bureau. The accident occurred not far from the bureau after he left there. It was a working day and during working hours, he said.

On top of this, the suit also took into consideration the issue of police management of safety on zebra crossings, which were the site of frequent accidents but no measures were ever taken to solve the problem.

The victim's father, Dr Anirut, who is also an ophthalmologist, said no amount of damages could compensate them for their daughter's loss of life. The figures were an assessment, but the psychological damage could not be assessed, he said.

The family's lawyer said they would file another suit with the Administrative Court against the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and two of its agencies - the Traffic and Transportation Office and the Road Safety Centre - for negligence in safety management over use of pedestrian crossings and demand the same amount of compensation, 72 million baht. 

Waraluck’s parents, their lawyer and a group of law students from Chulalongkorn University and Ramkhamhaeng University were later reported to have arrived at the Administrative  Court and filed their lawsuit.

The family's suit against the BMA and the two agencies cites negligence in failing to put up traffic signs telling vehicles to stop for pedestrians crossing the road or to slow down on approaching the crossing where the fatal accident occurred. They are also accused of failing to strictly enforce traffic rules in the area.

On Feb 1, police investigators filed two additional traffic charges against Pol L/Cpl Norawich, - speeding in an 80kph zone and unsafe driving - raising the counts against him to nine. The other charges included reckless driving causing death, using a vehicle without a licence plate and failing to give way to someone using a pedestrian crossing.

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