• How to quantify damages in accident and personal injury cases

    How to quantify damages in accident and personal injury cases

    Let’s face it, accidents happen. If you have been involved injured by a third party in South Africa and have suffered damages, there are a few important things you need to note when pursuing a personal injury claim.

    According to the law of delict, the person who caused the damage has the duty to restore the victim back to the position they would have been in if the damage had not occurred. A delict occurs when one party commits a wrong against another. The basic elements of delict are conduct, wrongfulness, fault, causation and damage. As a starting point, it is essential to realise that all five elements mentioned above must be present before a person can be set to be delictually liable. There is no ‘written’ or ‘codified’ law dealing with delict and it is based on what is known as common law. The exception to this would be in the case of the Road Accident Fund as there is specific legislation dealing with that through the Road Accident Fund Amendment Act, 2005.

    Damages in delict are broadly divided into:

    • patrimonial damages, including medical costs, loss of income and the cost of repairs, which in turn fall under the heading of special damages
    • non-patrimonial damages, including pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of amenities and injury to personality, which fall under the heading of general damages; and
    • pure economic harm, which is not connected to any physical injury or damage to property.

    Personal injury can include, but not be limited to slip and fall accidents, dog and animal bites, electrocutions, gunshot wound victims, traffic accidents, public transport accidents, assault, building and construction accidents and product liability (defective products). In the case of injury on duty, the case would be related to the worker’s compensation Act as opposed to personal injury, unless your employer or your co-workers wrongfully caused the injury.

    When a breadwinner is injured to the extent that he or she is no longer able to provide financial support for the spouse or children or any other dependants who can lawfully claim a duty of support; or alternatively when the breadwinner is killed at the hands of the negligent wrongdoer the surviving spouse or dependants would have a claim against this wrongdoer.

    Delaying the hiring of representation has the potential to seriously harm your claim. The sooner you obtain an attorney, the stronger the case they can build for you. The duration of your case will all depend on the number of parties involved in the accident and the severity of your injuries. The main reason most people try to avoid hiring a lawyer is because of the fees involved. This, however, is a short-sighted reaction in the event that the attorney works on a no-win, no-fee basis. If your case is eligible, the fees would be deducted from the final settlement, not upfront and if the case is unsuccessful, no fees would be charged.

    Malcolm Lyons & Brivik Attorneys Inc. specializing in personal injury, and catastrophic injuries in particular, have since 1965 developed a niche speciality in this field and are sought after. With a strong referral basis by former clients the practice continues to grow and new claimants are constantly assisted.

     

    If you would like to institute or pursue a personal injury claim with the assistance of
    Malcolm Lyons & Brivik Attorneys Inc. please contact us on:

    Cape Town, Western Cape:
    0861 MLB INC / (021) 425-5570

    Johannesburg, Gauteng:
    0861 MLB INC / (011) 268-669

    With offices and representatives country wide from Cape Town and Johannesburg we are able to represent clients throughout South Africa.

     

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