Personal Injury FAQ’s

What is a definition of Personal Injury ?
According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Personal Injury means physical injury, rather than damage to property or to somebody’s reputation.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim can be defined as a claim for damages. Damages that a person has experienced as an outcome of injuries, suffered because of an accident or where the outcome of the accident was the death of his or her financial supporter/breadwinner.

The negligence of another person must have been the cause of the accident.

What are examples of Personal Injury claims?
  • The most common personal injury claim is a motor vehicle accident where a person is being injured or where the breadwinner of a person is killed, where you or your breadwinner were not responsible.

Other examples that can promote personal injury claims:

  • Dog bites or dog attacks.
  • Slip, trip and fall; where a third party acted negligently in a public area, on business premises or in a shopping centre.
  • Injury as a result of a motorcycle accident where you are not responsible.
  • Injury as a result of a bicycle accident, remember as a cyclist you still need to follow the same road legislation as other road users.
  • Injuries as a result of medical negligence; When a medical practitioner failed to act or performed according to medical standards.
  • Injuries caused by a faulty product; inadequate instructions and warnings.
  • Any other cases where another person was at fault or directly the cause of your loss or suffering.

Despite what the RAF says, the process is not as simple as they would like you to think. The RAF’s 3 step process of gather, complete and submit sounds easy enough, however, you must take the process seriously and be as thorough as you can because your claim is weighed up by the supporting evidence you provide. And this evidence is left up to you to prepare, meaning you may not know which evidence will help or hinder your case.

While the RAF does pay millions out each month, many claims are rejected due to a lack of evidence or contradictory evidence provided when submitting a claim. And while the RAF encourages people to make claims directly without a lawyer, we suggest you seriously weigh up the pros and cons of doing it on your own versus working with an attorney.

Can a Personal Injury case be reopened?
Usually once a personal injury case has been settled, you cannot reopen the case, but there are always exceptions. Get in contact with our legal team to have a look at your case and reasons why you want to reopen the closed case.
What happens if I was at fault for a Personal Injury?

It will be reported as a fault accident if you are single-handedly responsible for a road traffic accident. It is not likely that you will be able to claim any personal injuries, but any passengers in your vehicle will be able to claim for personal injuries against you. Remember, personal injuries are if you suffered any injuries that was not your fault.

How long do I have to claim for Personal Injury?

With personal injury cases you have three years from the actual date that the incident happened, to submit your claim against the negligent party.

What can I claim for with a Personal Injury?

Someone who is a victim of personal injury can claim for the following compensation for damages suffered:

  • Past and future medical expenses – any expenses for any medical treatment that is necessary as a result of the incident.
  • Past and future loss of income – time off work, because of recovery after the incident, results in unpaid sick leave, unemployment as a result of the injuries of the incident and future loss because of work incapability because of injuries.
  • General damages expenses – an amount of money paid to you for compensation for any suffering and pain experienced because of the incident.

Funeral expenses as well as loss of financial support for dependants can be claimed in cases where the breadwinner died because of the incident.

Before the settlement of the case is reached, the amount claimed for can be amended at any time. The amount claimed for is equal to the position that the person claiming for damages would have been in, if the incident never happened.

How do I proof damages experienced because of Personal Injury?

Examples of damages or harm experienced or suffered can be bodily injuries, financial loss, mentally or psychological trauma. Expert opinion will prove the severity of the damages experienced and narrative evidence will proof financial loss. If you answer yes to one or more of the following questions you have experienced harm and can claim for personal injury.

  • Was there any hospital or medical expenses because of the injury you suffered?
  • Did you suffer any loss of income or financial loss because of the incident?
  • Did you suffer from any serious pain because of the injury?
  • Was your capacity of work affected by the incident?
  • Did you suffer from any mentally of psychological trauma because of the injury?
Who is responsible for my Personal Injury?

Contact our legal team who will be able to advise you who is responsible for your injury, because sometimes it is not easy to know who is responsible for the injuries you suffered.

What is the process of a Personal Injury claim?

Get all your information, evidence and required documentation together when contacting our legal team, for them to advise you on the possibility of success of your claim. The following are some of the processes that need to be followed and required documentation needed when submitting a claim:

  • You must provide our legal team with a written document with the reasons why you want to claim from the negligent party.
  • You must submit completed required claim forms within the compulsory time frame.
  • In order to establish the causes, you will have to go for assessments and get expert opinions from medical experts.
  • In order to prove liability of the negligent party the incident must be investigated.
  • You will provide our legal team with a mandate for them to proceed with legal steps against the negligent party.
  • The negligent party has a time duration in which they need to decide whether they will settle out of court or take the case to court. It is preferred to settle out of court as the process of a trial is costly and tedious. If they decide to go to court a date will be set.
  • The trial will then proceed in court. For medical experts to prove the amount of damages owed to you, there might be more medical assessments that need to be done. Our legal team will represent you in court and will provide all the evidence and call all the necessary witnesses to support your claim.
  • The negligent party’s legal representative will argue your claim as to why they don’t think it is a personal injury.
  • After the Judge has analysed the case your claim can either be dismissed or you will receive compensation from the negligent party.
  • At any moment in the process of the trail it can be dismissed if the accused party decides to offer you a fair settlement.
Why should you approach our legal team to assist with a Personal Injury claim?
It is important for your own sake to approach our legal team to assist you with a personal injury claim. If you do it on your own there is a risk that you will accept a compensation offer which is much less than what you deserve, if your claim was even successful. Many claims get declined because of not having expert advise and assistance.
Is there a Personal Injury document “checklist”?

When approaching our legal team to assist you with a personal injury claim, it might be easier if you have some of the information and documents ready for them to have a look at.

  • Your Identity Document.
  • Necessary completed claim forms.
  • Information with regards to the incident, date and time.
  • Details and contact details of the person that caused your injury or injuries.
  • Details and contact details of anyone else affected by the incident.
  • Details and contact details of any witnesses of the incident.
  • Details and contact details of the hospital or emergency unit where you were admitted after the incident as well as your patient file number.
  • Details and contact details of all the medical professionals that examined or treated you after the incident.
  • Police case number of the incident.
  • Any photos or video footage of when and where the incident took place as well as to what happened.
  • Dates when you were not at work (possible loss of income), because of the injury suffered.
  • If possible, any written statements from the negligent party or witnesses of the incident.
  • Proof of any medical expenses, invoices and receipts. Proof of any related expenses to the injury.

If the breadwinner was killed in an accident/incident and the claim is submitted by the dependant; the following is needed:

  • Identity Document of the deceased.
  • The deceased’s death certificate.
  • A copy of the deceased’s latest payslip.
  • Proof of funeral expenses

Make a list of all the questions that you might have when you consult our legal team.

Make copies of all the documentation provided to our legal team and keep it safe should you need it as evidence at a later stage.

Which court will be handling my Personal Injury case?

To establish which court will handle your personal injury case depends on the value of your personal injury claim. If the value is less than R400 000 the case will go to the Magistrate’s Court. If the expected value is more than R400 000 your case will be handled by the High Court. The following article will explain the above-mentioned courts to you.

https://www.iol.co.za/the-star/news/understanding-south-africas-different-courts-and-their-functions-17616140

What is a reasonable compensation offer?

Different claims are equal to different compensation amounts. The compensation amount depends on circumstances and the nature of the claim.

Factors taken into consideration when calculating a pay-out for a specific claim:

  • What happened at the incident or accident?
  • What are the consequences as a result of the incident? For e.g. disability, unable to work, unable to provide for your family.
  • What were the most recent compensations offered for similar cases?

Again, it is advisable for you as the injured to approach our legal team for the following reasons:

  • Your attorney will provide guidance during the claim process as this is their field of expertise, they know what to expect, what the risks are as well as the benefits of your decision to accept or deny a compensation offer.
  • They know how the compensation offer is calculated and will advise if the amount offered is reasonable.

Many victims of personal injury have the tendency to settle for much less than deserved. The reason for this could be poor advice from their attorney or insufficient claim preparation. You can also claim for professional negligence against the attorney who advised you to settle for less.

Whether to accept an offer or not?

The decision to accept or deny an offer can only be made by you, the injured. You are the only one who knows what amount of damage was done or what kind of harm was experienced. You are the one that suffered from the injury or loss and who knows what sufficient compensation would be acceptable.

You should think about the following when making a decision, our legal team will also provide guidance in making your decision:

  • Is the compensation amount an acceptable amount for damages suffered because of the incident?
  • What are the chances of an increased amount of compensation if the case is taken to court?
  • What will the trial costs be if you do not accept the compensation offer? Make a list of the expenses, should the case go to court versus the settlement amount.
  • Will the emotional stress related to a court case be worth it?
  • The financial expenses for your legal costs as well as the defendants (negligent party) should you lose the case.

Let us help you get the settlement you deserve.

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