De Broglio Inc continues to fight for the rights of less advantaged citizens, having recently won a R1.4 million award from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) for a hawker who was hit by a minibus taxi.
Because de Broglio Attorneys offers clients the option to take on their RAF High Court claims on a contingency basis – no win, no fee – Benjamin Mahlangu* was able to engage the firm’s services to fight for an equitable settlement following a road accident that left him unable to continue making a living in his chosen line of employment.
Benjamin, a 25-year-old door-to-door fruit vendor, was sitting on a pavement in the vicinity of the Soweto highway on- and off-ramps one evening in March 2007 when a taxi approached him and drove over his left foot, crushing it. His injuries were so severe that his leg and foot eventually had to be amputated below the knee, leaving him partially incapacitated.
He decided to institute an accident claim against the RAF, with the help of the lawyers at de Broglio. However, because Benjamin was an informal worker and operated largely on a cash basis, he could not provide documentary proof of his income, rendering it problematic to conclusively demonstrate his past and future loss of earnings.
On the day the trial was due to begin, the RAF offered the plaintiff R499 000, with a 15% risk contingency as the Fund believed he could have avoided the accident and was at least partially to blame for his injuries. De Broglio’s team indicated that it would have accepted R600 000, with an unlimited undertaking by the Fund to pay for all Benjamin’s future medical treatment.
However, an agreement could not be reached between the parties and the matter went to trial – with the judge ultimately awarding the combined sum of R1.4 million for pain and suffering, loss of income and medical expenses.
Experts called by the de Broglio legal team contended that since Benjamin no longer had the full use of one of his legs, he was best suited to a sedentary job rather than the active street vending he had previously been engaged in. However, due to his lack of formal qualifications for a clerical or desk job, his employment prospects in that arena were limited.
Thanks to the RAF payout, which Benjamin intends to place in a trust, he now has the opportunity to forge a brighter future for himself and his family.
“Just because someone is a low-income informal trader does not mean that somehow he is somehow less valuable to society,” Michael de Broglio points out. “In fact, it is often the least educated members of our society who need the protection of the law the most, as they are the most vulnerable to exploitation.
“That’s why we make a habit out of fighting for the underdog.”
*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality.