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R1-million payout for near-drowning victim

updated: 15-Jul-10

A nine-year-old girl who nearly drowned in a hit-and-run accident will be looked after for the rest of her life following a R1-million settlement that de Broglio Attorneys secured for her from the Road Accident Fund.

Zinzi Tshabalala*, who lives in an informal settlement near Secunda, was brain damaged in the horror accident – which was every parent’s nightmare.
In February 2007, she was walking with her motherdown a road, crossing a bridge, when a motorist lost control of his vehicle and struck the young pre-schooler. The impact of the collision sent her hurtling through the air, landing in the river running under the bridge.
While the driver abandoned his car and ran away, the child was drowning. Her mother says she was underwater for an extensive period of time before being rescued.
Although it was a miracle that she was revived, being deprived of oxygen for so long resulted in fairly serious intellectual impairment. She also sustained fractures and cuts in the accident.
Her learning difficulty resulted in Zinzi failing Grade 1 the first time round, and she is struggling in Grade 2. The occupational therapist reports that she has temper tantrums, fights with other children, and speaks and walks very slowly.
Experts doubt that she will be able to achieve a sufficient level of literacy to be employable; neither will she be suited to manual labour as an adult.
An out-of-court settlement was reached between de Broglio Inc, their advocates and the Road Accident Fund, and was ratified in the South Gauteng High Court. The R1-million will be paid into an interest-bearing trust for Zinzi, which will be administered by one of the major banks. Application will have to be made to the trust to have any funds released for, for example, sending her to a special-needs school.
The Fund also undertook to cover the costs of any future medical treatment she may need to have.
This money and the establishment of the trust will ensure that this young girl can be maintained for the rest of her life and will have an income once she reaches working age, protecting her interests and securing her future.
*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality

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