Category Archives: Insurance

Consider your claim carefully: Some of the need to know facts in the event of a third-party claim against the RAF (Road Accident Fund)

article1_img_blogThe Road Accident Fund (hereinafter referred to as the RAF) has over the years created the assurance that public road users will be covered in the event of any motor vehicle accident which caused either injuries or death, and for the losses suffered thereby, such as medical expenses, loss of earnings and even general damages (damages for pain and suffering).

Before the Road Accident Fund Amendment Act 19 of 2005, which came into operation on 1 August 2008, this had the effect of any person simply being able to institute a claim against the RAF in any event of an accident which amounted to damages suffered as a result of injury or death, or even a claim based on pain and suffering. This sounded simple enough, that is until the Road Accident Fund Amendment Act 19 of 2005 came into operation, placing two very important limitations on claims from the RAF.

The first limitation relates to claiming from the RAF and/or the wrongdoer. In respect of the old Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996, the victim who had a limited claim against the RAF, still had a common law claim against the wrongdoer in respect of the excess amount not compensated for by the RAF. This meant that should the road accident victim only be compensated by the RAF for a portion of the damages suffered during the accident, the remaining portion could still be claimed from the wrongdoer in his personal capacity. For example, if victim X suffered damages in the amount of R200 000 and the RAF only compensated the victim in the amount of R150 000, the remaining R50 000 could still be recovered from the wrongdoer in person. This would have the effect of two separate claims. However, should the victim have received full compensation in terms of Section 17 of Act 56 of 1996 for the amount of R200 000, such victim would not have another claim against the wrongdoer.

In terms of the new Road Accident Fund Amendment Act this common law right has been abolished by the institution of Section 21 of the Road Accident Fund Amendment Act. The victim will currently only be able to claim/recover losses or damages suffered as a result of a motor vehicle accident from the RAF. There can be no more separate claims in respect of one cause of action.

The second important amendment is a part of Section 21 which places a cap on the amount of loss of earnings claimed and the amount of general damages claimed, i.e. damages claimed for pain and suffering.

With regard to the capped amount allowed to claim for loss of earnings, a victim is only allowed to claim damages up to the amount of R160 000, but this amount changes quarterly according to the fluctuation in interest rates and currently it stands at R201 337 per annum as from October 2012. Should the victim earn a salary of more than the said amount per annum, he or she will be unable to institute such a claim against the RAF. / Should the victim earn a salary of more than the said amount per annum, his or her claim will be limited to the amount dictated by the Law.

Furthermore, with regard to a claim for  based on injuries suffered, the claim will only succeed if the victim can prove that he/she has suffered “serious injuries” as defined in the Act. This would amount to injuries sustained which has ultimately rendered such victim at least 30% disabled in his or her everyday life. This limitation does not take into consideration any personal circumstances. Similarly, no common law right exists to institute a second claim against the wrongdoer in the event of failure against the RAF.

Also important to remember is the fact that when consideration is given to medical expenses suffered, the amount is calculated according to the rate charged at a public level (public hospital rates) and not at a private level (private hospital rates).

In conclusion, it is important to remember that the RAF takes over the liability of the wrongdoer in such accidents, meaning that actions must be instituted against the RAF and not the wrongdoer in the first instance. The exception is where the RAF is unable to pay compensation or where emotional shock is suffered. In such a case, the action may be instituted against the wrongdoer in person. Any action instituted against the RAF is a time-consuming process and requires due consideration before proceeding. Section 21 of the Road Accident Fund Amendment Act has definitely placed limitations on claims that need to be borne in mind.

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).

Hondebyt en die Finansiële risiko vir die eienaar

article2nlNa aanleiding van ‘n toename in die soort sake is dit van belang om die risiko’s aan eienaars uit te wys, hoe aanspreeklikheid ontstaan en hoe om hierdie risiko’s te ondervang.

Wanneer ‘n persoon deur ‘n hond gebyt word kan die beseerde persoon aksie instel teen die eienaar van die hond vir die verhaal van skade. Skuld aan die kant van die eienaar is nie ‘n vereiste vir aanspreeklikheid om te vestig teen die eienaar nie.

Indien die vereistes wat hieronder behandel word aan voldoen word is dit nie vir die beseerde persoon nodig om enige skuld aan die kant van die eienaar te bewys nie. Selfs al was die eienaar dus nie nalatig in enige opsig kan hy/sy steeds aanspreeklik gehou word vir beserings of skade veroorsaak deur die hond.

Wat moet bewys word ten einde met so eis te slaag?

Vir die beseerde persoon om te slaag met ‘n eis moet die volgende bewys word:

  • Die persoon wat gedagvaar word moes die eienaar van die dier gewees het toe die voorval plaasgevind het. Die blote feit dat ‘n persoon in beheer van ‘n dier was is nie genoegsaam nie;
  • Die dier moet ‘n huishoudelike dier wees wat gevolglik enige wilde diere uitsluit;
  • Die beserings was veroorsaak in omstandighede waar die dier strydig met sy eie natuur opgetree het. Die dier moes gevolglik anders opgetree het as wat verwag kan word van ‘n wel opgeleide dier van dieselfde soort. Ons howe ag ‘n hond wat byt se optrede as strydig met sy aard. Waar die hond egter deur ander faktore ontlok word of geterg word, word dit nie geag dat die hond strydig met sy natuur optree nie;
  • Die persoon wat beseer is moet regmatig teenwoordig wees waar skade veroorsaak was. ‘n Persoon wat dus onregmatig ‘n perseel betree behoort in normale omstandighede nie te slaag met ‘n aksie nie.

Verwere beskikbaar vir die eienaar van die hond

Alhoewel skuld aan die kant van die eienaar van die hond nie ‘n vereiste is, is daar ‘n verskeidenheid verwere beskikbaar aan die eienaar in die geval van ’n eis vir skade. Die verwere sluit die volgende in:

  • Skuld aan die kant van die beseerde persoon. Byvoorbeeld, die beseerde persoon het die dier geprovokeer deur die hom te slaan, voorwerpe na hom te gooi of deur die dier te terg; 
  • ‘n Derde party het die skade veroorsaak. Byvoorbeeld, ‘n derde persoon provokeer die hond, maak die hond seer of terg die hond met die gevolg dat die hond die beseerde persoon aanval; 
  • Provokasie deur ‘n ander dier. Byvoorbeeld, waar ‘n ander hond die eienaar se hond aanval en die eienaar se hond dan die beseerde persoon aanval;
  • Toestemming tot benadeling. Waar die beseerde persoon uitdruklik of stilswyend deur sy/haar optrede toestem tot benadeling. Dit sal byvoorbeeld, die geval wees waar die persoon gebyt word maar vooraf gewaarsku was teen die hond en waar die persoon byvoorbeeld, verklaar dat hy/sy nie bang is nie. ‘n Hof behoort te bevind dat die persoon toegestem het tot moontlike benadeling en behoort so aksie nie te slaag nie.

Watter skade kan geëis word

Met ‘n hondebyt kan ‘n wye verskeidenheid skade geëis word van die eienaar wat ondermeer pyn en lyding, verlies aan lewensgenietinge, ongeskiktheid en verminking, mediese uitgawes reeds aangegaan asook toekomstige mediese uitgawes, verlies aan inkomste insluit.

Selfs ‘n persoon wat ‘n aanval op ‘n ander waarneem kon emosionele trauma beleef het en dit dan van die eienaar van die dier eis as skade.

Dit is gevolglik belangrik vir die eienaar van ‘n hond om bewus te wees van die potensiële aanspreeklikhede vir die optrede van sy dier. Die aanspreeklikheid kan ernstige finansiële gevolge inhou en eienaars moet voorsorg tref om hulle honde te beheer en veilig binne hulle eiendom te hou.

Korttermynversekering

Meeste korttermynversekeringspolisse maak voorsiening vir hierdie tipe aanspreeklikhede teen ‘n minimale koste. Neem die tyd om die dekking met jou makelaar of versekeraar te bespreek. Eise van die aard kan astronomiese proporsies aanneem en jou versekeraar kan jou help om jou teen die risiko te verskans.

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.

Kliek hier om die volledige vrywaring te sien

Dog Bites and the financial risk it poses to owners

article2nlHaving received a number of matters that ended up in costly litigation we decided to point out certain risks to dog owners, how liability arises, and how to manage such risks and protect one against potential liabilities.

Where a person is bitten and injured by a dog the injured person can institute action against the owner of the dog to recover his/her damages suffered.

Guilt on the part of the owner is not a requirement for liability to attach. If the requirements discussed below are met, the injured person need not prove any guilt on the part of the owner of the dog. Thus, irrespective of whether the owner of the dog was negligent or not, the owner can still be held liable for harm caused by his animal.

What must be proven for a successful claim?

In order to succeed with a claim for damages, the injured person must show that:

  • The person being sued is the owner of the relevant animal at the time of the incident. The mere fact that a person is in control of an animal is not sufficient;
  • The animal is a domesticated animal, which by implication excludes wild animals;
  • Injury was caused by the actions of the animal acting contrary to the nature of its kind. The animal must have acted differently to what could be expected of a proper and well-mannered animal of its kind. A dog that bites is deeded by our Courts to act contrary to the nature of its kind. Where the animal does not acted spontaneously but acts due to incitement or other external factors such as a dog that is being teased etc., the animal does not act contrary to its nature when it reacts aggressively;
  • The injured person must have a right to be present at the place where the damage was caused. Where a person enters the property of another without invitation, the person will not be able to succeed with this action because the injured person was unlawfully present on the property.

Defences available to the owner of the dog

Although guilt on the side of the owner is not a pre-requisite, a number of defenses are available to the owner of the animal in the case of a claim for damages. Defenses available to the owner include the following:

  • Guilty conduct on the part of the injured person. For example, where the injured person provoked the animal by hitting, throwing objects at or teasing the animal;
  • Causing of damage by a guilty third party. For example, where another person provokes the dog or hurts or teases the animal with the result that the injured person is attacked;
  • Provocation by another animal. For example, where another dog attacks the owner’s dog and the owner’s dog in the attack bites the injured person.;
  • Consent to prejudice. Where the injured person expressly or tacitly through his/her conduct consents to prejudice. For example, where a person is bitten by a dog but was pre-warned against the dog and then indicates that he/she is not afraid of dogs – “the dog won’t bite me” – a court should find that the injured person tacitly consented to the prejudice and would the person not able to claim damages from the owner.

What damages can be claimed?

Where a dog bites a person, the person usually suffers damage and the person can claim for a wide range of damages, including for pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, disfiguration or disability, medical expenses incurred and to be incurred in future, loss of income etc. All of these damages are in principle recoverable from the owner of the dog.

Even a person that witnesses the attack on another, may as a result of the emotional trauma suffered (and upon proving).

It is important for owners of dogs to take note of their potential liability for the actions of their animals. This liability may be extensive and owners are encouraged to be serious about the proper control of their animals and to keep the animals within the confines of their property.

Short Term Insurance

Most short term householder policies will make provision for liability such as this at a minimal cost to the policyholder. Take the time to discuss this with your broker or your insurer. Make sure that adequate insurance is in place. A claim such as this can amount to significant proportions. Your insurer can however help you cater for such a risk.

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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