The Road Accident Fund (RAF) has agreed to pay over R8.9 million damages to a student whose dreams of becoming a veterinary surgeon were shattered when she sustained severe head injuries in a horror multiple car crash five years ago.
In terms of a settlement reached in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, the RAF agreed to compensate Jacqueline Hendriques, 27, of Johannesburg for the damages she sustained in a car accident on the N4 highway near Middelburg in April 2012.
Hendriques was a fourth-year veterinary science student at the University of Pretoria at the time. She was a passenger in a car that was hit by an oncoming vehicle that was, in turn, hit by a bus. Five vehicles were involved in the pile-up.
She spent two weeks in a coma in the intensive care unit. She sustained severe head injuries which resulted in cognitive, mood and personality changes and left her with a loss of function in her left hand. Hendriques was able to return to university but was forced to change her degree to a BSc in genetics because of severe short-term memory problems.
She now works as a marketing assistant for her father’s panel beating business but according to expert reports, struggled with and disliked her job and would not be able to compete on an equal footing in the open job market.
According to expert reports, the injuries had resulted in a once quiet and calm introverted girl being changed to a “loud” extrovert who lost her temper easily and was prone to road rage.
A trust will be created to manage the RAF award for her benefit and the RAF also agreed to pay all of her legal costs and the fees of numerous experts.