Ex-client sues lawyers over low settlement

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Independent Newspapers

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Pretoria - An accident left him brain damaged and lame down one side, stripping him of his ability to work, yet his lawyers accepted a settlement of a mere R10 000 from the Road Accident Found (RAF) and R2 500 towards his legal fees.

Now, more than six years later, the accident victim, identified only as RP Mosima in court papers, has filed a multimillion rand claim against the Limpopo law firm – Chueu and Chueu – who he claims “undersettled” in the matter.

Mosima, in his thirties, used to work as a labourer on tobacco farms, but is now living off a state disability grant.

The accident occurred in 2004 and his lawyers gave notice to the RAF in 2006 that they were to claim damages.

In today’s monetary terms, his claim would be worth about R3 million – the amount he is now claiming from the lawyers.

Before summons could be issued, the RAF made an offer to Mosima’s lawyers of R10 000. The fund also offered to pay about R2 500 towards his legal costs. His lawyers accepted this offer.

Years later, in 2011, some of his relatives happened to speak to another lawyer in Limpopo.

They mentioned Mosima’s case and the fact that he received just R10 000 in the settlement after suffering brain damage.

That lawyer took up the man’s plight and is now suing Chueu and Chueu.

According to court papers the lawyers should never have accepted R10 000 as the medical reports clearly stated that the victim suffered brain damage.

But the lawyers are defending the matter, stating that they had not settled on behalf of Mosima.

According to the lawyers they also claimed damages on behalf of one of his family members, who was also in the car that day.

That man apparently had the same names as Mosima and he suffered minor injuries in the accident.

But Mosima’s new lawyers question that.

If it was a case of mistaken identity, why did the law firm which acted for him years ago not follow up his case, the lawyers wanted to know.

If the matter was never settled, his claim had in any case proscribed by now, as too much time had lapsed since the accident.

The fund, on the other hand, says it is bound by the settlement.

However, It was claimed that the claims handlers acting for the RAF should have realised that R10 000 was far too little for an accident victim with brain damage.

The case has been postponed indefinitely by Pretoria Deputy Judge President Willem van der Merwe.

Mosima meanwhile, has to make do with his disability grant.

Pretoria News


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