Judge orders Road Accident Fund to pay man for loss of a lifetime income
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Cape Town - A Western Cape High Court judge has ordered the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to compensate a man for loss of a lifetime income after a 2017 car accident confined him to a wheelchair and rendered him mentally impaired “with inevitable future deterioration of symptoms and function”.
Sibulele Marawanqana, now aged 35, was a passenger in a car accident in which he was severely injured. The accident occurred on St Helena Bay Road between Vredenburg and Laingville in September 2017.
Marawanqana approached the RAF claiming compensation damages and they conceded 100% liability in the face of his proven damages.
However, neither side agreed on whether Marawanqana still had residual earning capacity, which is why the matter landed in court for acting judge Constance Nziweni to decide.
The damages would be determined by an actuary.
During the case, medical experts for Marawanqana argued that he was incapable of earning any income since the crash, as it had rendered him completely unemployable.
Arguing for the RAF, Andre Kok, an industrial psychologist, had suggested that it was possible for Marawanqana to up-skill.
However, after Marawanqana’s employers said they would not extend his employment, Kok testified that Marawanqana would struggle to secure employment.
However, Kok said that to argue Marawanqana was unemployable was wrong. He said that Marawanqana was likely to get employment in an informal sector and manage to earn an income.
A report by orthopaedic surgeon Dr Charles Edelstein, on Marawanqana’s behalf, said he would be permanently wheelchair bound and that longevity was reduced in paraplegic people.
“He is severely and even catastrophically impaired and disabled as a result of the accident.”
Making her ruling, the judge said: “I am of the strong view that the injuries sustained by Marawanqana left him with long-term physical and mental impairment limits which have a direct negative impact on his chances of gaining employment.
“The disabilities will certainly prevent him from finding a job and keeping it. This will have an appreciable effect on his earning capacity, as he is unemployable.
“Consequently, in my view he does not have any residual income-earning capacity and he. should therefore, be compensated for loss of a lifetime income.”