Loss of Support – Gert Nel Attorneys Case Study November 19, 2015 by
Your firm once received a instruction from a claimant to institute a loss of support claim against the Road Accident Fund as a result of the death of her husband in what was believed to have been a motor vehicle accident.
The deceased was found in the middle of the road with severe trauma to his head and no witness that actually saw the accident taking place. A claim was lodged with the Road Accident Fund and duly repudiated, the Fund stating that the deceased did not die as a result of a motor vehicle accident and put the plaintiff to the proof thereof.
We needed to prove: That the deceased was still alive when he was run down
That the reasonable road user would have been able to see the deceased and have an opportunity to avoid an accident;
That the trauma that caused his death was due to an accident and not assault;
We managed to locate a witness that passed the deceased lying in the middle of the road whilst he was on his way to drop his daughter at a friend (obviously to scared to stop fearing a possible high-jacking ploy).
He stated that when he drove passed the deceased on his way back to his home< a few minutes later it was clear that he had been struck by something as he had obvious trauma to head.
An inspection and reconstruction was conducted involving night photos being taken by a specialist photographer which involved the taking photos, taking similar conditions as the day of the accident into account, the time being determined with the help of the said witness.
An actor was used to imitate the deceased lying in the middle of the road. It was clear from the photo’s that the reasonable road user would have been able to see the deceased in time to avoid a collision.
Based upon the photos taken from the docket we were able to obtain a report from a specialist in blood spatter technology based at the South African Police’s forensic department, which confirmed that taking the amount of blood into account the deceased was still alive when he was struck by the object. With the use of an expert in the reconstruction of accidents we were able to show that the amount of trauma could only have been inflicted by a large object like a vehicle or a truck in relation to the trauma that would have been caused by assault.
The result: We convinced the Fund of the validity of the claim and a settlement was reached in favour of the client.