Personal Injury Claims

What can I claim?
Damages arising from all personal injury claims (including claims against the Road Accident Fund) are made up of the following:

  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • General damages
  • Loss of income (past)
  • Loss of earning capacity (future)
  • Loss of support
  • Funeral expenses

Medical Expenses (Past)
You should Keep proof of all of your medical expenses and prescriptions related to your injuries. These expenses can be recovered from the wrongdoer (or Road Accident Fund.)

Medical Expenses (Future)
These expenses, as anticipated by medical experts, can be recovered. If your injuries are fairly serious, and in order to properly cover all possible future medical expenses, you will be referred to various medical experts who will assess you, with a view to predicting (as far as is possible) what treatment you may have to undergo in the future.
 
Based on these reports (called medico-legal reports), you will receive either of the following:

  • An undertaking to pay future medical expenses from the RAF.  Armed with this undertaking you will be entitled to claim back from the Road Accident Fund medical and other expenses once they have been incurred. The amount reimbursed will depend on the amount prescribed in the tariff; or
  • In a claim against the wrongdoer (not involving the RAF), you will be entitled to a cash award calculated according to the treatment costs and probability estimated in the medico-legal reports.

To give an idea of the calculation: if the orthopaedic surgeon predicts that you have a 50% chance of undergoing a knee operation in six years’ time (at a cost of R50 000.00), an actuary will calculate the value of 50% X R50 000.00 factored (having regard to inflation and investment return over the next 6 years) to provide that amount at the predicted date of operation.

Other Future Expenses
It often happens that injuries bring about disabilities and drastic changes to lifestyle and working environment that may necessitate modifications. For example, a paraplegic who lives in a house with steps will need to have a ramp built and the toilets at home modified to accommodate the wheelchair. These costs will also be recoverable from the liable party (These costs will be covered under the undertaking in the event of a claim against the Road Accident Fund.)

General Damages
General Damages are calculated as a lump sum award, intended to make good the pain, suffering, changes to your life and lifestyle, inconvenience and discomfort caused by your injuries.
The amount that you are likely to receive as general damages will be dependent on the following factors:

  • Initial injury
  • Pain experienced initially
  • Treatment received and to be received
  • Duration of treatment received and to be received
  • Duration of pain experienced and anticipated
  • Temporary disability and discomfort while recuperating
  • Permanent disability, discomfort and pain
  • Permanent changes to your life and lifestyle.

To give an idea of the variance, general damages for a simple whiplash injury to the neck, with no complications will generally  range between R40 000 and R80 000 depending on the severity. On the other hand, a person suffering paraplegia may recover in excess of R1 million under this head.  The variance is explained when considering the extent of the disability and suffering and changes in life enjoyment caused by the respective injuries.

 

Loss of Income
Loss of income involves past loss of income and future loss of earning capacity.

The amount recoverable is dependent on, among others, the following important factors:

  • Your job (and income) before the accident
  • Your future job (and income) prospects before the accident – how were you progressing, what promotions would you likely have attained
  • The effect of the injuries on your ability to perform your work.  E.g. if your work was of a physical nature and you lost both your arms, the loss would be significant, whereas if you are a manual labourer and suffer a minor brain injury which effects your anger management and ability to multi task, then you will still be able to shovel dirt, and this won’t result in a significant loss
  • Your future employability (after the accident).  In this regard the injuries may result in you being fully able to perform the work, having to be retrained to perform another job, or on the other hand you might be completely disabled.

To illustrate the principles involved, an accountant may suffer a lower back injury which will hamper him a little in terms of working comfort for the rest of his working life. This injury does not threaten his livelihood, and his loss is not that large in monetary terms. The same injury may befall a boilermaker who has to climb in and out of awkward places, bend a lot and use a lot of physical strength. The pain and discomfort caused by the lower back injury may, due to the physical nature of the job, make it impossible to continue in that position. As you can imagine, the boilermaker’s loss is significant. His claim is likely to be much larger than the accountant’s.

Actuarial Calculations
The calculation of loss of income is not a simple one. The various medico-legal reports 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 you would have retired. It is up to you to provide for further pension income after this date, by investing in retirement funds etc.

There are many technical aspects that are to be taken into consideration when assessing the amount of appropriate compensation. Each individual matter has its own unique set of circumstances.

Contact Details

Phone Phone: (012) 809 1588
Fax Fax: (0) 86 603 0097
WWW Link Website: www.claims4u.co.za
Email Email:info@claims4u.co.za
Address: Block 2, Lombardy Business Park,
Cnr Cole & Graham Rds, Lombardy , Pretoria