bodily injury

Each year, millions of South Africans suffer bodily injuries as a result of negligence on the part of another party. In these cases, the victims may have the right to claim compensation.

Claims can be made for a wide range of bodily injuries, including slip and fall accidents, appliance defects, medical malpractice, road accidents and wrongful arrest or detention. Here's what you need to know about launching a claim for bodily injury.

Who would be liable

You can claim compensation for a bodily injury if the injury was sustained as a result of the act or omission of another person. For example, property owners have a “duty of care” or a “duty to act”, meaning that they are required to provide a safe environment for tenants and the general public. If they fail to do so, and you suffer an injury as a direct result of this negligence, you can claim compensation.

Other parties liable for “duty of care” or “duty to act” incidents include police officers, child care providers, teachers, lifeguards and appliance manufacturers.

What bodily injuries can you claim for?

Bodily injury claims can be made against the party responsible for: dog bites, police assault and wrongful detention, medical malpractice, slip and trip accidents, appliance-related injuries, train and plane accidents, and lift and gate/door malfunctions.

If you have sustained an injury in a vehicle accident, whether as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, you can't claim compensation directly from the party responsible. Under South African law, you may claim damages only from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) – a parastatal that provides compensation to those injured in accidents on South African roads. Compensation may cover medical expenses, loss of income and, in cases involving serious injuries, general damages for pain and suffering.

How much can you claim for a bodily injury?

With most bodily injuries, you can claim compensation for past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of earnings, and general damages for pain and suffering. However, there are many factors that influence the compensation that you are due in a bodily injury case.

For example, the compensation that you will receive for an injury sustained in a road accident is influenced by your role in the collision, and if you were partially responsible for the accident or for your own injuries, you can expect a lower settlement.

Many bodily injury claims are settled out of court. In this case, the compensation you receive will most likely be based on what the party at fault is willing to pay, and what you're willing to accept.

Settlement offers are often lower than the compensation due to the victim. This is why it's in your best interest to hire a qualified attorney, who can help ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Claiming for bodily injury

In most cases, you'll need to prove liability in order to successfully settle a bodily injury claim. If you can't prove that the individual, organisation or other entity from which you're claiming is responsible for your injuries, you won't be awarded compensation.

For example, if you're claiming from the RAF, you'll need to provide evidence that substantiates your claim that the other driver was at fault.

In the case of appliance injury claims, however, the Consumer Protection Act protects your right to claim damages from manufacturers and suppliers for injuries caused by unsafe or defective appliances. In other words, it's not up to claimants to prove negligence if they're injured by appliances.

Hiring an attorney to assist with your claim

Bodily injury claims can be complex, so it's in your best interest to consult an attorney with experience in personal injury claims.

With extensive experience in personal injury claims, our attorneys can help you gather sufficient evidence to substantiate your claim, assist you in filing your claim and advise you regarding settlement. If your case goes to court, our attorneys can also represent you in legal proceedings, providing you with the best chance of winning your case.

Contact us to see if you have a claim