RAF to pay millions for donkey cart accident

the court has ordered the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to pay more than R4.3 million to the accident victim. Picture: File

the court has ordered the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to pay more than R4.3 million to the accident victim. Picture: File

Published Feb 21, 2024


In a sequel to a donkey cart accident more than 14 years ago when an unknown driver drove into the cart and a 10-year-old was severely injured, the court has ordered the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to pay more than R4.3 million to the accident victim.

The plaintiff is now an adult and is identified as TW in the judgment delivered recently by the Limpopo High Court, sitting in Polokwane. He suffered various injuries, including head injuries, when the hit-and-run driver crashed into the donkey cart on which he was a passenger.

He was unconscious for several minutes after the accident and later taken to hospital.

It is the plaintiff’s case that because of the head injury, he will not be able to be gainfully employed in the open market.

Last year, the RAF accepted full liability for the injuries suffered by the plaintiff but the parties could not agree on the amount of damages payable. While the fund had given an undertaking that it would pay for the plaintiff’s future medical expenses and had offered to pay him R440 713 in respect of loss of earnings, the offer was rejected.

The fund had also rejected the claim for general damages.

A neurosurgeon had said the plaintiff suffered soft tissue injury to his right eye and a mild traumatic brain injury. The plaintiff had told the neurosurgeon and the clinic psychologist that he had to repeat Grade 2 after the accident.

The plaintiff said he was employed in 2022 as a construction worker supervisor but had resigned as the work was too physically demanding for him. He is employed as a security officer.

The court was told that the plaintiff lived with his parents and that his home environment was dire. It is confirmed to be a brick and zinc house with five rooms and 10 occupants. There is no bathroom. The occupants use a basin. Water is collected from a tap in their yard.

Tests conducted on the plaintiff showed that he was easily irritated and had anger outbursts following the accident. A clinical psychologist had recommended that the concerns can be treated through psychological therapy.

The court said something had to be said about the “inadequate way the RAF is litigating to the detriment of tax-abiding citizens”.

The court said the RAF paid billions of rand each year in road accident claims.

“These claims could be drastically reduced if not for the delinquent manner in which third-party claims are dealt with,” Acting Judge C Marais said.

The judge said the plaintiff’s anger outbursts, concentration and forgetfulness were all treatable through therapy and appropriate medicine, as recommended by the experts. It was pointed out that summons had been issued in February 2018 and that the RAF had filed its plea in June 2018.

From June 2018 to October 2023, the RAF had failed to provide the plaintiff with an undertaking for medical expenses. It had done so only in October 2023. If it had done so sooner, the plaintiff’s claim for loss of income could have been significantly reduced, the judge said.

The court pointed to a previous judgment in another RAF case in which a judge had raised the benefits of the RAF making an undertaking early in proceedings to pay a plaintiff’s medical expenses in order to mitigate the injuries.

In that case, a judge said that would not only benefit the injured person but also enable a plaintiff to mitigate their damages. In that way, plaintiffs and injured people would experience beneficial relief in respect of their compromised or diminished amenities of life and might be assisted on the road to recovery, be it by way of surgical or scar-removing procedures, or psychiatric or remedial educational therapy, to name but a few examples, the judge said.

Pretoria News

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