Death Claims

In the event of the death of a person due to a wrongful act, any person suffering financial loss as a result of the death of the deceased may claim that loss from the wrongdoer (or in the event of death as a result of a road accident, the Road Accident Fund.)

Who will be entitled to claim?
Anyone who was legally dependent on the deceased for financial maintenance and in respect of whom the deceased had a legal duty to maintain may claim compensation.  This would include the widow, biological or adopted children and indigent parents, who are no longer able to earn a living and require support.

Financial Loss - Loss of Support
Financial Loss, in the form of loss of support or maintenance is the only compensation recoverable in the event of death.

How is the Loss of Support Calculated?
Over the years our courts have accepted the formula for apportioning the income of a breadwinner according to the nature and number of dependents.  2 portions of the income are allocated to a spouse, and 1 portion is allocated to a child and indigent parent.

The application of the formula is fairly simple:

According to the above formula the basis for calculation will look something like this:

 death claim
Taking a practical amount of R14, 000.00 per month being the income of a deceased husband with a wife and 3 children, the split will look something like this:

  • Father = R4, 000.00 per month – falls away
  • Mother = R4, 000.00 per month – loss
  • Each Child = R2, 000.00 per month – loss

As each child becomes self-sufficient, that entitlement falls away and there are then fewer portions by which to divide the lost income, and thus a greater share for the remaining dependents.
Children are entitled to support until they reach self-sufficiency (usually age 18 unless tertiary education is likely.)

In the event that a widow remarries before her claim is finalised, her loss will be reduced due to the fact that she now has someone else supporting her. In the event that the breadwinner is at the beginning of his or her career at the time of death, and it was anticipated that the deceased would have been promoted and advanced in his career, an expert is requested to report on the earning potential of the deceased, and the increased earnings are taken into account when calculating the dependents’ losses.

Changes to the compensation of Road Accident Fund claimants:
In terms of the new amendments to the RAF act, any loss of support sustained due to an accident which occurred after 31/7/2008, the total (combined) loss of support of all dependents from one deceased breadwinner will be limited to R194 043.00 per year. The same formulae as explained above will be applied; the TOTAL loss will be limited to the sum of R194 043.00 per year.  This amount is adjusted quarterly to allow for inflation.

The limit will then be applied proportionally per dependent. In other words, each dependent’s claim will be reduced in proportion to the total of all claims so as to bring the total of claims within the limit of R194 043.00.

Calculation of Loss
The calculation of loss of support is not simply a straight-forward total of the monthly loss multiplied by the number of months of lost support.  The figures are referred to an actuary who factors in inflation, discounting and various other contingencies to arrive at a figure which, if invested at a market related return, will provide support (out of both capital and interest) until the date when the deceased would have stopped working, and thus ceased supporting his dependents. For further support after this date, the dependents (e.g. widow) must make provision out of the compensation for post-retirement support.

Funeral Expenses
Funeral Expenses are recoverable. This is very limited. The only items recoverable are the service, grave fee and casket. Refreshments are, unfortunately, for your own account.

Contact Details

Phone Phone: (012) 809 1588
Fax Fax: (0) 86 603 0097
WWW Link Website:
Address: Block 2, Lombardy Business Park,
Cnr Cole & Graham Rds, Lombardy , Pretoria