Sometimes the guilty party in a car accident can’t be held liable for injuries or damages... because he or she happens to be an animal.
De Broglio Inc recently represented a client in an unusual claim against the Road Accident Fund (RAF) in the North Gauteng High Court. Hannes Coetzer* was travelling in the vicinity of the small farming town of Fochville at about 5am on 27 February 2008 when he rounded a bend and suddenly saw a cow crossing the road, right in front of him.
A startled Hannes swerved into the oncoming lane to avoid the bovine jaywalker, but as fate would have it there was another vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. That vehicle, in turn, was forced to swerve into the incorrect lane to avoid Hannes and the cow.
In the comedy of errors that ensued, both drivers tried desperately to correct their vehicles and, in the process, collided in the middle of the road. The cow, incidentally, was unharmed in the fracas.
However, Hannes did sustain several injuries: whiplash in his neck, injuries to his right eye and left knee, a bruised shoulder and chest from wearing a seatbelt, and a dislocated left hip.
Represented by de Broglio Inc, Hannes lodged a damages claim against the RAF. In court it was agreed that he was at least 50% to blame for the accident as the two drivers involved had not necessarily driven at a safe speed, been as attentive as possible, or taken the appropriate evasive action to prevent the accident.
The matter was settled and after the 50% apportionment had been deducted, Hannes received compensation of R450 000 from the RAF.
The moral of the story: when driving on roads bordered by unfenced farmland or in rural areas where animals are known to graze, drive even more carefully than usual – or you may just end up having an unpleasantly moo-ving experience!
*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality