SA HC | In regard to future loss of earnings where method of actuarial computation is adopted, a Judge has a large discretion to award damages

South Africa High Court, Free State Division, Bloemfontein: V.M. Morobane, AJ. adopted the method of actuarial computation while awarding compensation to the plaintiff.

This case arises out of a motor collision which occurred on 16-02-2012. As per the Road Accident Fund Act (56 of 1996), a defendant has to pay for all loss or damage incurred by a victim of an accident in a motor vehicle.

The plaintiff claimed for general damages for the loss and damage he incurred. But, it was rejected. Now, that his claim got rejected the only issue remained to be determined was quantum for loss of earning capacity. The plaintiff’s testimony led to the other four witnesses.

The plaintiff worked in a company named Deboning as a delivery person. He had a code 8 driver’s license. He testified that due to his injuries he lost control of the clutch while driving. Moreover, he could not carry heavy objects nor stand for more than ten minutes. Thereafter, he was dismissed.

The second witness, supervisor to the plaintiff at the time of the accident testified that the plaintiff was retrenched by the employer as the business went into liquidation. The third witness testified that the plaintiff’s job was lighter and less physical. He got less productive after the accident. The fourth witness recommended that the plaintiff should only perform the sedentary type of work. The first witness testified that the plaintiff will not be able to perform strenuous activities.

The Court observed in light of the evidence that the plaintiff could still drive although it would be harmful to him to do so. The plaintiff is entitled to a sum of money which would restore him to the position before the accident. The Court cited some cases.

In Southern Insurance Association Ltd. v. Bailey, 1984 (1) SA 98 (A) at 116G, it was set out that where the method of actuarial computation is adopted a Judge has “a large discretion to award what he considers right”.

In AA Mutual Insurance Assn. Ltd. v. Maqula, 1978 (1) SA 805 (A) at 809A-B, a trial court has wide discretion in the matters of awarding compensation.

In terms of these cases, the defendant was directed to pay a sum of Rs 513 646 for loss of earnings and ordered to furnish an undertaking to bear the costs of future medical expenses of the plaintiff arising out of injuries sustained in the motor collision.[Minnie Dawood v. Road Accident Fund, Case No. 1913 of 2014, decided on 01-08-2019]

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