EARNING CAPACITY: USE IT (FOR YOURSELF) OR LOSE IT Rudman v Road Accident Fund 2003 2 SA 234 (SCA)
In Rudman v Road Accident Fund (2003 2 SA 234 (SCA)), the appellant, a mohair farmer, was also a game farmer, hunting outfitter and registered professional hunter. He brought large numbers of foreign hunters to the Eastern Cape and his business was one of the most successful of its kind in the province. Acting on advice from his financial managers, the appellant acquired control in 1977 of a company, Blaauwkrantz Farming Enterprises (Pty) Ltd of which he, his wife and children were directors. Although the farming and hunting activities were done through the company, these activities were in fact performed by the appellant in person. The income generated by the company was thus through the energetic effort of the appellant. Both the hunting and the farming were done on rugged terrain and required considerable physical effort from the appellant. He was an active man who always maintained a high level of personal fitness and this contributed to his success as hunter and farmer.
In May 1998 the appellant was involved in a motor collision which changed his life dramatically. After a lengthy period in hospital he returned to the farm but he would never hunt again and would also not be able to pursue his farming activities with the same vigour as before.
The appellant claimed, amongst other things, past loss of earnings in the amount of R745 882, as well as loss of earning capacity in the amount of R1 380 000 (238 E-F). These claims arose from the physical handicaps such as severe restriction of movement due to miscellaneous injuries suffered by the appellant. The prognosis for recovery was poor and the appellant would, according to the evidence, never again function as a professional hunter, nor would he be able to perform all the farming duties he had performed prior to the accident.
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