Tag Archives: car accident

What to do after a car accident?

If a driver of a vehicle, at the time when the vehicle is involved in or contributes to any accident in which any person is killed or injured or suffers damage in respect of any property, including a vehicle, or animal, must report the accident to a police or traffic officer at the scene of the accident as soon as possible, unless he or she is incapable of doing so by reason of injuries sustained by him or her in the accident. In the case where a person is killed or injured, it must be within 24 hours after the occurrence of the accident, or in any other case on the first working day after the accident.

What must a person do after a motor vehicle accident (“accident”)?

  1. Call the police or report the accident at the nearest police station within 24 hours if a person is killed or injured, or on the first working day after the accident if no person was killed or injured.
  1. Write down the name of the police officer spoken to and the accident report’s reference number.
  1. Co-operate with all emergency personnel and police who respond to the accident.
  1. Get the details of all other motor vehicles involved in the accident, such as the drivers’ names, identity numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, description of the motor vehicles, the registration numbers, and any relevant details from the licence discs; the date, time and address of the accident; the weather and road conditions when the accident occurred; and any other information that may be relevant.
  1. If an employee is driving a motor vehicle on behalf of his/her employer, then the details of the driver and the employer must be taken.
  1. Write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all potential witnesses of the accident.
  1. Take photographs or a video of the following: the scene of the accident, from all angles; the surrounding area; the injuries; and any damage to property.
  1. Draw a sketch plan of the scene of the accident and make sure that it contains a fixed point so that it can easily be traced. Also make a statement about how the accident happened. This sketch and statement will remind a person of all the details relating to the accident at a later stage.
  1. If a person has been injured, a doctor must be consulted immediately, even if the injury is not serious.
  1. If the person is insured, that person has to notify his/her insurance or broker as soon as possible. Write down the name of the person spoken to at the insurance and the reference number of the claim.

What must a person NOT do after an accident?

  1. Move his/her motor vehicle; unless it is necessary for safety or required by law.
  1. Subject himself/herself to further injury by standing or waiting in an area near traffic or other safety hazards.
  1. Leave the scene of an accident until the police tell him/her to do so.
  1. Throw away any potential evidence, such as defective products, important documents, or torn or blood-stained clothing.
  1. Engage in discussions of fault with anyone as that can be considered evidence in court – do not admit liability.
  1. Agree to settlement terms without discussing the matter with an attorney.

Although involvement in a motor accident is always a traumatic experience, try to remember that nearly all accidents have legal consequences. For instance, a criminal charge of driving without a licence, drunken driving or culpable homicide may follow. Civil consequences may include claims for damage to property, or for personal injury, and may arise whether there is a criminal charge or not.

References:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Claims from the road accident fund

A4_b_newIn terms of current legislation, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) is entitled to offer undertakings or guarantees to a Plaintiff who is in the process of instituting a claim against the Fund. The fact that an undertaking is offered instead of a traditional lump sum payment has certain positive and negative aspects to it. It is important to know when to accept or reject certain offers from the Road Accident Fund.

In terms of Section 17(4) of The Road Accident Fund Amendment Act[1], there are 2 categories of undertakings that can be offered by the Road Accident Fund.

Firstly, in terms of Section 17(4)(a) of the Act, an undertaking may be offered by the Road Accident Fund when the Claimant has a claim for medical expenses. When the Claimant has actually paid the amount required for whatever treatment was needed, the Fund will refund the proven amount. In terms of Section 17(4)(a) the Claimant has no option as to whether the amount may be accepted or not and when the Fund makes an offer in terms of future medical costs, it has to be accepted by the Claimant.

In terms of Section 17(4)(b), the Road Accident Fund is entitled to make an offer to the Claimant for an undertaking to pay the Claimant’s future loss of earnings. Payment would only be suspended when the Claimant reaches his predicted retirement age, or if the payments are made to the deceased breadwinner’s dependant. The payment will cease when the dependant’s right to maintenance is suspended.

This type of undertaking differs from the type as mentioned in terms of Section 17(4)(a), however, as the Claimant or his/her representative is not obliged to accept the offer that is made by the Road Accident Fund. There must be consensus between the Road Accident Fund and the Claimant regarding the content of the undertaking and the instalments paid to the Claimant must then reflect the agreement that was reached. This was established in the case of Coetzee v Guardian National Insurance Co Ltd.[2]

In this regard it is important to note that it is often advantageous for the Claimant if an initial lump sum is paid instead of an undertaking for the payment of a periodical amount. When future loss of income is paid in terms of a periodical payment from the Fund, payments will be terminated if the Claimant dies. This would be different if an initial lump sum was paid, because even if the Claimant dies before the predicted date, as future losses are calculated, the Fund will not be able to have any amount repaid to them by the Claimant. Of course this will benefit the Claimant’s estate and family, as a bigger amount will be paid than where an undertaking was made.

The benefit of accepting an offer by the Fund is that the Fund will be more likely to make a settlement offer to the Claimant when it is done in the form of an undertaking. This will be preferred by the RAF as it will have a lesser impact on the Fund’s cash flow. The important thing to consider is that a fair settlement should be negotiated between the RAF and the Claimant, bearing the aforementioned factors in mind.

It will be beneficial for a Claimant to appoint an attorney to make sure that the Claimant receives fair compensation from the Fund.

[1] Road Accident Fund Amendment Act 19 of 2005

[2] Coetzee v Guardian National Insurance Co Ltd 1993 (3) SA 388 (WLD)

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice