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Modern Tendency in General Damages Awards

Modern Tendency in General Damages Awards
Nov 1, 2011 gnuworld

On 2 September 2011 Van Oosten J handed down judgment in the matter of Alfred Kgomo v Road Accident Fund in relation to the Plaintiff’s claim in his personal and representative capacities on behalf of his minor son, who sustained serious injuries in a motor vehicle collision which occurred on 12 October 2006.

At the time of the collision the Plaintiff’s son (M) was a 14 year old boy who was a learner at school.  He was knocked down by a motor vehicle whilst jogging.
The issue of negligence was settled between the parties prior to the commencement of the hearing on the basis that the Defendant accepted liability to pay 90% of the Plaintiff’s duly proven damages.  The Defendant further agreed to furnish an Undertaking in terms of Section 17(4)(a) of the Road Accident Fund Act in relation to future medical and related treatment.
The matter proceeded before Van Oosten J in relation to the quantification of the remaining heads of Plaintiff’s damages, namely general damages for pain and suffering and loss of amenities of life as well as future loss of earnings/earning capacity.
In relation to the issue regarding general damages the Court set out the nature, extent and severity of M’s injuries, which were essentially a severe head injury as well as secondary injuries described as abrasions and soft tissue injuries.  In assessing the amount of general damages which should be awarded, the Court held that the cases relied upon by Counsel for the Defendant had been overtaken by the modern tendency of awarding higher amounts, as has been reflected in a number of recent awards to which the Court referred.  The Court went on to award R800 000 in respect of general damages.
In respect of the claim for future loss of earnings/earning capacity the Court referred to the expert evidence of the parties’ respective industrial psychologists as well as calculations furnished by the Plaintiff’s actuary.  The Court determined that a contingency deduction of 20% on M’s future uninjured earnings was reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances and consequently awarded R1 458 956 in respect hereof, having allowed for the Defendant’s 90% liability.
For a full copy of the judgment of the South Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) click here.
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