Even a quiet suburban street can be the scene of a terrible car accident, as teenager Janet Koekemoer* discovered when an underage joyrider ploughed into her outside a friend’s home in 2007.
De Broglio Inc, assisted in the North Gauteng High Court by Advocate Ian Zidel SC, settled the merits of this case against the Road Accident Fund for 80% in Janet’s favour in June 2010, and is awaiting a trial date to ascertain the remainder of the youngster’s damages claim.
Now 17, Janet was 14 at the time of the accident, which took place outside the home of a family friend in Kempton Park. She claims she was standing on or next to the pavement with a group of other youngsters, waiting for her boyfriend to take her for a ride on a quad bike while the adults were braaiing in the back yard.
Suddenly, a 15-year-old youngster driving a stolen car – who was possibly distracted and talking to his passenger at the time – slammed into her, sending her flying into the road. His passenger got out and ran away, while the unlicensed driver ran home to summon his uncle to the scene of the accident. He may still face separate charges.
Janet, who is home-schooled, sustained a head injury in the accident and it will be up to various specialists to conduct tests on her and report back to the court on her long-term prognosis.
What was seemingly a cut-and-dried case became complicated since Janet could not remember if she was standing on the pavement or in the road at the time of the accident. Had she definitely been on the pavement, no blame could be apportioned to her. But if she had been standing in the road, she would have to accept some liability for the crash.
The family approached de Broglio Inc to handle their claim against the Fund, and the legal team decided to conduct an inspection in loco, to try and determine where the teen had been standing based on where she had landed after the collision. They and the Fund subsequently settled the merits of the case 80% in her favour, accepting that it was possible that she could have been 20% to blame.
Michael de Broglio said that the case serves as a warning that parents should never leave their minor children unsupervised, even if it is on a seemingly sleepy suburban street over a weekend. “There should always be an adult present, because this kind of freak accident can – and does – happen. Pedestrians of all ages should always be vigilant and cautious, whether walking in town or in your neighbourhood, because even if you are abiding by the law, there’s no telling what reckless drivers might be doing.”
*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality