Category: Injury

WHAT TO DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?

my-lawyer_images_nov-04If 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.
  2. Write down the name of the police officer spoken to and the accident report’s reference number.
  3. Co-operate with all emergency personnel and police who respond to the accident.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all potential witnesses of the accident.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. If a person has been injured, a doctor must be consulted immediately, even if the injury is not serious.
  10. 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.
  2. Subject himself/herself to further injury by standing or waiting in an area near traffic or other safety hazards.
  3. Leave the scene of an accident until the police tell him/her to do so.
  4. Throw away any potential evidence, such as defective products, important documents, or torn or blood-stained clothing.
  5. Engage in discussions of fault with anyone as that can be considered evidence in court – do not admit liability.
  6. 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.

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)

Reference:

https://www.legalwise.co.za/help-yourself/quicklaw-guides/car-accidents/

http://www.saps.gov.za/faqdetail.php?fid=10

Sport Injuries: Who is liable?

A3_BContact sports often lead to the players thereof being seriously injured. Can anyone be held liable for these injuries or are the players taking an inherent risk when participating in these sports? Case law has established some important principles when dealing with this issue. Make sure you know what you are allowed and not allowed to do on the field of play.

Are you in fact consenting to an injury when participating in a dangerous sport? The issue was considered in the 2012 Supreme Court of Appeal-case, Roux v Hattingh. In this case the appellant seriously injured the respondent while performing an illegal and dangerous scrumming manoeuvre, referred to as a jack-knife.

Appeal Court Judge Plasket ruled in favour of the respondent. It was held that the Appellant purposefully injured the Respondent and his actions were found to be wrongful. The legal principle of Volenti Non Fit Iniuria, or the consent to potential damage, would be sufficient to protect a person that injures another in a sporting match, but only in the usual and reasonable course of the specific game.

First, the “jack-knife” manoeuvre executed by Alex was in contravention of the rules of the game. It was also contrary to the spirit and conventions of the game. Secondly, because it had a code name, the manoeuvre must have been pre-planned and it was consequently also executed deliberately. Thirdly, while one of its objects may have been to gain an advantage in the scrum, and another may have been to intimidate the opposition, particularly Ryan, it was also extremely dangerous.”[1]

Plasket AJ continues further:

“Because this conduct amounted to such a serious violation of the rules; it is not normally associated with the game of rugby and is extremely dangerous. It would not have constituted conduct which rugby players would accept as part and parcel of the normal risks.”[2]

It is clear from the AJ Plasket’s judgment that the main issue to be considered when evaluating whether a person should be held liable for an injury caused in a contact sport, should be whether the conduct should be considered to be normal for the specific game being played.

Appeal Judge Brand, in a concurring judgment expands the issue further:

 “I believe that conduct which constitutes a flagrant contravention of the rules of rugby and which is aimed at causing serious injury or which is accompanied by full awareness that serious injury may ensue, will be regarded as wrongful and hence attract legal liability for the resulting harm”.[3]

It is stated that when an action is of such a nature that it is a blatant breach of the laws of a game, the player reconciles himself with the contravention of such law and the possible consequences and deliberately goes ahead with such action, the player should be held liable. It is important that the meaning behind this passage is not that any injury that occurs as a result of a broken rule of the game, should be punished by law, but only in cases where the infringement is serious and obvious enough to warrant such action.

This would place an overly onerous burden on a person to not contravene any rule of the game to avoid punishment. Imagine a rugby player being held delictually liable for injuring an opposing player when going of his feet a ruck, a common mistake in rugby that should not lead to legal liability. The reasoning behind the judgment in the Roux-case is simply that where a player deliberately and flagrantly breaks a rule of the game and knows that such contravention will or might cause serious injury to an opposing player, he or she can be held delictually liable.

There is therefore no need to alter the way in which you play a game because of the fear of legal consequences. However, be aware that malicious actions on the field of play, may lead to serious repercussions.

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)

Bibliography

Articles

Labuschagne JMT “Straf- en Delikregtelike Aanspreeklikheid vir Sportbeserings” Stell LR 1998 1 72

Cases

Roux v Hattingh 2012 (6) SA 428 (SCA)

[1] Roux v Hattingh 2012 (6) SA 428 (SCA) at Par27

[2] Roux v Hattingh 2012 (6) SA 428 (SCA) at Par28

[3] Labuschagne JMT “Straf- en Delikregtelike Aanspreeklikheid vir Sportbeserings” Stell LR 1998 1 72 78

Claims from the Road Accident Fund

A3_BIn 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. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Who is to blame?

A4_BEmily and Nathan were a happily married couple in their early thirties with two minor children. Emily was a stay at home mom and Nathan was the breadwinner of the family. The family decided to take a vacation in Sun City, which ended tragically when Nathan was fatally injured on a Valley of the Waves ride. Who was to take care of the family now that Nathan was no longer there and who was to pay the price for the family holiday that ended in a tragic loss?

If the question of negligence is hanging in the air then the obvious word to pop into one’s mind would be that of delict. In Kruger v Coetzee 1966 (2) SA 428 A 430E-G the formulation for negligence was established by Holmes in two steps:

(a) a diligens paterfamilias in the position of the defendant –

(i) would foresee the reasonable possibility of his conduct injuring another in his person or property and causing him patrimonial loss; and

(ii) would take reasonable steps to guard against such occurrence; and

(b) the defendant failed to take such steps.

In the case of Za v Smith (20134/2014) [2015] ZASCA 75 (27 May 2015) the father and breadwinner of the family died in a tragic accident while on vacation at a mountain resort close to Ceres, Western Cape, after falling off a sheer precipice (a steep rock or cliff). The wife of the deceased took the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal, who considered three elements, namely wrongfulness, negligence and causation.

The background facts were taken into account, namely the fact that the park was used for recreational purposes for the public upon paying an entry fee. Furthermore, the 150 metres gorge drop where the deceased fell to his death was not visible, especially in snowy weather, nor were there any signs of warning.

Wrongfulness:

The court a quo did not find the Respondents to be wrongful as they did not have the duty to warn guests of the danger that was blatantly apparent to them. However, in the abovementioned case it was reiterated that ”the test for wrongfulness is whether it would be reasonable to have expected the defendant to take positive measures, while the test for negligence is whether the reasonable person would have taken such positive measures; confusion between the two elements is almost inevitable. It would obviously be reasonable to expect of the defendant to do what the reasonable person would have done. The result is that conduct which is found to be negligent would inevitably also be wrongful and visa versa.”[1]

If the abovementioned case is taken into consideration then Emily would most likely be successful in her application for compensation for herself, as well as in her capacity as mother of the two minor children, if it is found that Sun City Holiday Resort was negligent and wrongful and had causation.

[1] Za v Smith (20134/2014) [2015] ZASCA 75 (27 May 2015)

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)

Sport Injuries: Who is liable?

A3BContact sports often lead to the players thereof being seriously injured. Can anyone be held liable for these injuries or are the players taking an inherent risk when participating in these sports? Case law has established some important principles when dealing with this issue. Make sure you know what you are allowed and not allowed to do on the field of play.

Are you in fact consenting to an injury when participating in a dangerous sport? The issue was considered in the 2012 Supreme Court of Appeal-case, Roux v Hattingh. In this case the appellant seriously injured the respondent while performing an illegal and dangerous scrumming manoeuvre, referred to as a jack-knife.

Appeal Court Judge Plasket ruled in favour of the respondent. It was held that the Appellant purposefully injured the Respondent and his actions were found to be wrongful. The legal principle of Volenti Non Fit Iniuria, or the consent to potential damage, would be sufficient to protect a person that injures another in a sporting match, but only in the usual and reasonable course of the specific game.

First, the “jack-knife” manoeuvre executed by Alex was in contravention of the rules of the game. It was also contrary to the spirit and conventions of the game. Secondly, because it had a code name, the manoeuvre must have been pre-planned and it was consequently also executed deliberately. Thirdly, while one of its objects may have been to gain an advantage in the scrum, and another may have been to intimidate the opposition, particularly Ryan, it was also extremely dangerous.”[1]

Plasket AJ continues further:

“Because this conduct amounted to such a serious violation of the rules; it is not normally associated with the game of rugby and is extremely dangerous. It would not have constituted conduct which rugby players would accept as part and parcel of the normal risks.”[2]

It is clear from the AJ Plasket’s judgment that the main issue to be considered when evaluating whether a person should be held liable for an injury caused in a contact sport, should be whether the conduct should be considered to be normal for the specific game being played.

Appeal Judge Brand, in a concurring judgment expands the issue further:

“I believe that conduct which constitutes a flagrant contravention of the rules of rugby and which is aimed at causing serious injury or which is accompanied by full awareness that serious injury may ensue, will be regarded as wrongful and hence attract legal liability for the resulting harm”.[3]

It is stated that when an action is of such a nature that it is a blatant breach of the laws of a game, the player reconciles himself with the contravention of such law and the possible consequences and deliberately goes ahead with such action, the player should be held liable. It is important that the meaning behind this passage is not that any injury that occurs as a result of a broken rule of the game, should be punished by law, but only in cases where the infringement is serious and obvious enough to warrant such action.

This would place an overly onerous burden on a person to not contravene any rule of the game to avoid punishment. Imagine a rugby player being held delictually liable for injuring an opposing player when going of his feet a ruck, a common mistake in rugby that should not lead to legal liability. The reasoning behind the judgment in the Roux-case is simply that where a player deliberately and flagrantly breaks a rule of the game and knows that such contravention will or might cause serious injury to an opposing player, he or she can be held delictually liable.

There is therefore no need to alter the way in which you play a game because of the fear of legal consequences. However, be aware that malicious actions on the field of play, may lead to serious repercussions.

Bibliography

Articles

Labuschagne JMT “Straf- en Delikregtelike Aanspreeklikheid vir Sportbeserings” Stell LR 1998 1 72

Cases

Roux v Hattingh 2012 (6) SA 428 (SCA)

[1] Roux v Hattingh 2012 (6) SA 428 (SCA) at Par27

[2] Roux v Hattingh 2012 (6) SA 428 (SCA) at Par28

[3] Labuschagne JMT “Straf- en Delikregtelike Aanspreeklikheid vir Sportbeserings” Stell LR 1998 1 72 78

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

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