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R5 million compensation for crash victim

Published May 28, 2010

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A 26-year-old woman whose teaching career came to an abrupt end when she was severely injured in a car accident was on Friday awarded R5.88 million damages by the Road Accident Fund (RAF).

Valerie Melony van Meyeron of Standerton suffered severe brain injuries and multiple broken bones in the accident near Newcastle in November 2006. Her then-fiancé was also seriously injured and two of his children were killed.

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She initially claimed over R13 million from the fund.

She further suffered a broken leg and arm, muscle damage, a fractured pelvis and ruptured aorta, for which she had to be treated by numerous specialists. Her injuries resulted in her losing use of her right hand and most of the function in her left hand.

Van Meyeron was a final year teaching student at Potchefstroom University and about to get married at the time. She only had two subjects to complete to obtain her degree. She was also a qualified netball coach and an avid netball player and horse rider.

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According to court papers, the young teacher, who was a regarded as a "go getter" with a bright future ahead, would never be able to complete her degree or work in the open labour market.

She struggled to read, speak, add numbers and also had memory problems. Her wedding had to be postponed for almost a year.

She could not walk for long as she was off balance, fell a lot and needed help with bathing, dressing, housework and travelling.

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Van Meyeron faced a life of ongoing pain, discomfort and health problems and would always need care from others.

Her attorney Darren Bobroff said she was extremely fortunate because her accident had occurred prior to August 1, 2008, when new RAF legislation came into effect.

"If the accident had occurred subsequent to this date, she would not have recovered her past medical and hospital expenses on a private tariff which totalled close to R1 million, and the claim for future loss of earnings would have been limited to R9 000 per month, irrespective if she earned more," he said.

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"What makes this worse is that she would not have been able to recover the balance of her damages from the wrongdoer directly as the amendment act abolishes victims' common law rights to do so."

Fortunately the Law Society and Personal Injury Lawyers' Association would continue their legal battle to challenge these unjust amendments, which affected all road users, Bobroff said. - Sapa

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