R10 000 for brain damage

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ZELDA VENTER

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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 instituted a multimillion-rand claim against the Limpopo law firm – Chueu and Chuene Attorneys – who he claims “undersettled”.

Mosima, in his 30s, who used to work as a labourer on tobacco farms, 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 going to claim damages.

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

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

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

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 never settled on behalf of Mosima.

According to them they also claimed damages on behalf of one of his family members that had been in the car on the day of the accident. That man apparently had the same names as Mosima and he had only suffered minor injuries.

But Mosima’s new lawyers say the firm acting on his behalf should have pursued a follow-up case if he was a victim of mistaken identity. If the matter was never settled, his claim had in any case prescribed by now, as too much time had lapsed since the accident. The fund, on the other hand, says it is bound by the settlement. But Mosima’s new attorneys say the RAF claims’ handlers should have realised that R10 000 was inadequate.

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.


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