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ay v Health Professions Council of South Africa and Others (22407/14) [2015] ZAWCHC 178

Photo by Duane Daws

26th November 2015


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[1] The applicant is the plaintiff in a pending action against the sixth respondent (‘the RAF’) in which he claims damages for injuries sustained in a motor car accident on 18 September 2010. He was then aged 22. His claim includes general damages, in support of which he alleges that he suffered a ‘serious injury’ as contemplated in the proviso to s 17(1) of the Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996 (‘the Act’). The RAF rejected the serious injury assessment report submitted on his behalf. The applicant notified the first respondent’s Registrar that he disputed the rejection. The second to fifth respondents, being the doctors appointed by the Registrar to serve on the appeal tribunal, considered and rejected the appeal on 21 May 2014. By way of the present application the applicant seeks to have the tribunal’s decision set aside on review. The application is opposed by the first to fifth respondents (for convenience I refer to them collectively as the respondents).

[2] In the accident the plaintiff suffered a fracture of the cervical spine. Initially he was treated conservatively with a hard collar. On 4 October 2010 he underwent a discectomy and anterior fusion of the left C6/C7 vertebrae. Speaking very generally, his long-term problems are neck and shoulder pain and occipital headaches. There is also a psychiatric dimension. As a teenager the applicant had an episode of depression. The accident triggered a further bout of depression. Each bout of depression increases the risk of further breakdown, a risk which in his case is increased by the stress occasioned by his neck injury.

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