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How Much is an Injury Claim Worth?

Patient with broken arm

A reasonable question most people have when considering a personal injury claim is how much compensation they can expect.

This will differ significantly from one claim to another, depending on the nature of the claim and all surrounding circumstances. However, it can be helpful to have an idea of previous and average claim values.

Road accident claims

In South Africa, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) is a state-supported insurance fund that’s responsible for providing financial compensation to those seriously injured in accidents on South Africa’s roads.

If you’re injured in a road accident for which you weren’t solely responsible, you can claim compensation for medical expenses, loss of earnings and, in specific circumstances, general damages resulting from the accident. Dependents of those injured or killed in road accidents can also claim loss of support and, in the event of a fatality, funeral costs.

Publication of the RAF’s 2022 annual report has been delayed due to irregularities. According to the RAF’s latest available annual report (for 2021),

  • the average value paid out per claim was R235,141
  • R1,084 369 was the average pay-out for loss of earnings
  • R516,097 was the average pay-out for general damages
  • R32,546 was the average pay-out for medical expenses.

Depending on the circumstances, the compensation awarded can be very much higher.

Recent examples include an award of over R5 million to a woman seriously injured in a car accident, and an award of over R7 million to a vehicle passenger who suffered a head injury and spinal fracture.

For more details, see our examples of RAF payouts awarded for different types of injuries.

Typically, the compensation awarded to those with proper legal representation is much higher than that for other claimants.

Medical negligence and malpractice claims

Successful claims against medical practitioners or hospitals can result in compensation ranging from a few thousand to several million rand.

According to a 2022 report, the South African state paid out a total of R9.7 billion in medical malpractice claims over a seven-year period.

In Gauteng alone, the Health Department paid out R228 million to pay for medical negligence claims.

According to Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, the payouts ranged from R7 301 through to R18.1 million.

Among claims previously paid by the Department (from 2015 on) were:

  • R769 million to settle 50 claims involving brain-damaged babies
  • R89.2 million to settle just four cases involving brain damage or cerebral palsy caused by brain damage
  • R514 million to settle 44 claims for negligence cases at just one hospital (Chris Hani Baragwanath).

Among the many factors affecting the compensation that’s awarded in medical negligence cases are the extent and severity of the injury or harm suffered; medical costs, including likely future costs of treatment, rehabilitation and on-going support; and impact on the victim’s earning potential.

Compensation may also be affected by the nature of the negligence or malpractice involved, the party against which the claim is made and any associated history of claims for similar cases.

Other personal injury claims

If you’re seriously injured as a result of negligence by another party, you may be able to claim compensation.

For example, you may be able to claim compensation from the owner of a private property, the owner of a shopping centre or, in the event of injury in a public space, the local municipality.

The value of a personal injury claim payout can vary hugely. This will depend on factors like:

  • details of how the injury occurred
  • the nature and likely long-term consequences of the injury
  • recent payouts awarded by the courts for similar claims.

For example, did the injury result in a permanent disability? Did it render you unable to return to work and support your family? These are all factors that will be taken into consideration.

Getting proper legal representation

For any personal injury claim, it’s vital to get proper legal representation from an attorney who specialises in the relevant claim type.

Attempting to defend a claim without expert legal assistance isn’t advised. You may end up with a pay-out that is much lower than your claim is worth, or find that your claim is dismissed for technical reasons or insufficient preparation and evidence.

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How DSC Attorneys can help

At DSC Attorneys, we specialise in personal injury law and our attorneys and medico-legal team have extensive experience in handling injury claims.

We can assess your claim, help prepare supporting evidence and represent you in legal proceedings, giving you the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve. We work on a no win, no fee basis. Contact us for more information or to discuss your personal injury claim.

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