When you’re involved in an accident, sometimes you’re far too shaken up to think clearly. But it is critical to have your wits about you to prove that you didn’t cause the crash – especially if you have been injured and are planning to lodge a claim against the Road Accident Fund.
This was illustrated by the case of Themba Ndaba*, whose son Andile* (who was aged four at the time) was injured in an accident after their car was hit by a truck in Eldorado Park in March 2008. Little Andile sustained several injuries, including a fractured skull, concussion, whiplash, a fractured jaw and a knee trauma.
However, when it came to claiming damages on his child’s behalf, Themba was surprised to hear that the truck driver was insisting that it was Themba who had in fact caused the accident, not him!
The problem was that because Themba’s car had been scrapped, there was no physical or photographic evidence to prove that he was telling the truth. Had the case been forced to progress in court without this proof, his child may only have been awarded R25 000 for his extensive injuries.
This conundrum set off a frantic Sherlock Holmes-like search among the staff at de Broglio Inc, which was appointed to handle the claim, to try and track down the car to prove Themba was not lying.
They exhausted every avenue and manner of proving where the damage to Themba’s vehicle was located, which would show he was not to blame for the collision. The police report was not terribly helpful, there were no insurance documents as the car had not been insured, and the scrapyard to which the car had apparently been towed after the accident had no record of it ever having been there.
Fortunately, the injured child’s mother remembered that she had a business card belonging to the tow-truck driver in question. After contacting him, the team was miraculously able to get their hands on a photo of the vehicle – clearly depicting the damage!
The photo showed that the damage had been to the left side of the vehicle only, which proved Themba’s contention that the truck had sideswiped his car – and not, as the truck driver had alleged, that Themba had rear-ended his truck.
The result: instead of having to make do with a far smaller payout due to lack of evidence, Themba’s little boy received a tidy settlement of over R1.4-million. The moral of the story: make sure you take down all the details at an accident scene, including telephone numbers and registration numbers, and take photos – even if you do so with your cellphone camera.
*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality