Timeframes for claims

In South Africa, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident — or you lose a loved one —as a result of another driver’s negligence, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit.

If you can prove that you have suffered physical or psychological harm, or financial loss, as a result of the negligent conduct of another person, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and lost earnings.

Even dependents of a main breadwinner may be able to claim for funeral expenses and loss of support.

Among other failings, a driver is considered to be negligent if they were driving in excess of the speed limit, failed to control the motor vehicle properly, or were driving under the influence of alcohol.

If you have been involved in an accident and have sustained injuries, there’s a good chance that you’ll need quality medical care. However, the length of time required for treatment can vary drastically. Some people need very little, while others can take months, and the unlucky few may need years or a lifetime of care.

Regardless of how long you need, the good news is that you are not limited to the amount of time that you can receive treatment following an injury caused by an incident that was not your fault.

However, you are limited by the amount of time you have to make your claim. Millions of Rands are unclaimed from the Road Accident Fund (RAF), and many valid claims fail as they were not processed within the strict time limits. A member of the team at Henry Shields Attorneys will clarify the exact details, as they can vary depending on the type of case you have and who is at fault.

However, usually in South Africa, you must present and settle your claim within three years of the date of the accident if you know who caused the accident, or within two years if you don’t know the driver that caused the accident. Generally speaking, the person who has suffered damages as a result of someone else’s negligence has three years from the date on which the debt becomes due, to the date on which a claim is instituted.

If your injuries and ongoing medical care prevent you from being ready to present your claim during this period of time, then you will need to follow the advice of your attorney to protect your right to maintain the claim.

In South Africa, you are required by law to report all road accidents at the nearest police station, and you must do this within 24 hours of the accident if a person was killed or injured, or on the first working day after the accident if no one was hurt.

Once you have reported the accident to the police, they will provide you with a case number, which you will need to keep as a reference for your claim. The case will then be investigated by the police, and an official report will be recorded by an investigating officer, who will identify any negligence involved.

You will need to be examined by a medico legal expert, who is trained to identify injuries and their potential causes. You must then submit the completed statutory claim forms in a required timeframe, of which your attorney at Henry Shields will notify you. And you may need to be aware that the Road Association Fund has 120 days to consider a matter before any legal proceedings against the fund can begin.

Once you have documented in writing your intent to launch a claim against an accused party, your personal injury attorney will request a summons to be granted, and will serve the accused with the notice of intent of legal proceedings. The accused then has a timeframe in which they will be required to notify you of their intention to either fight the claim or settle out of court.

When it comes to personal injury law, it can unfortunately take a long time for a claim to be finalised. This can be due to the complexity of some cases, a delay in compiling all relevant documentation, or finding available time slots for all parties to adjourn in court. In some cases it can take up to three or four years. You should also be prepared for it to take up to a year to get a trial date for your personal injury claim.

These are just some basic timeframes of which to be aware, but if you have any questions, never hesitate to ask your attorney at Henry Shields, who will happily let you know the fineprint.

[Original source: https://www.claimhelp.co.za/personal-injury/]