A large segment of our population uses public transport on a daily basis. A significant portion makes use of rail transportation (and with the introduction of the “Business Express” and the Gau-train aimed at the upper-end financial segment of the population, these figures are steadily increasing).
The rail services industry is largely dominated and run by para-statal agencies. These para-statals in turn have certain obligations to the public (which use their trains) and these include the duty of care: whereby a commuter is entitled to certain levels of safety while being conveyed on public transport.
According to media reports, The Report, titled State of Safety, which was compiled by the SA Rail Regulator showed no fewer than 457 people have died on our South African Railways during the year ended March 2011. The deaths include fatalities causes by train accidents and de-railments, which mostly involved Transnet and PRASA. A total of 1534 people were injured during that period.
What is a Train Accident Claim?
This is a claim which can be instituted to recover compensation on behalf of any person who suffered damages as a result of bodily injury or death, arising from commuting by train or being injured or killed as a result of an incident involving a train.
Against whom are claims made?
In most cases, legal proceedings will be instituted against the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) Metro Rail is a division of PRASA.
Who may claim?
Any person who has suffered damage owing to bodily injury to him or herself or bodily injury of someone else, may institute legal proceedings, provided they can establish the following:
- That their damages or injuries were caused as a result of a reasonably probable connection to a train;
- That PRASA / Metrorail, its employees and/or the driver of the train was negligent, either through their conduct or omission to act and
- That the bodily injury sustained or death was caused by such negligent conduct or omission to act.
Examples of who may claim are:
- A person who sustains bodily injuries whilst embarking or disembarking a train;
- A person injured by a train whilst at the station;
- A person who is injured while being conveyed on a train;
- When a breadwinner of a family is killed, the surviving spouse and children may be allowed to claim for damages suffered as a result of a loss of support due to the death of the breadwinner;
- Where a minor is injured and has to receive medical treatment, the parent would be the claimant, in respect of the medical costs incurred, as the parent is the person who would have paid for the costs on behalf of the minor
NOTE: A person solely responsible for their own injuries will not have a claim. However a person whose injuries were caused partly by his own fault and partly by the fault of PRASA / Metrorail and/or its employees will be entitled to claim compensation (reduced by apportionment).
Summons must be served, within three years from the date on which the action arose.
There are certain exceptions for example, if you are minor.
So if in doubt, contact us.
NOTE: It is imperative that you arrange a consultation with us as soon as possible after the incident. This will ensure that the claimant receives legal advice relating to all aspects of the merits of the case, as well as to ensure that the necessary preparatory investigations are undertaken immediately so that the time frames can be strictly adhered to and evidence can be secured.
What type of damages may be claimed?
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the enjoyment of the amenities of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Shorten life expectancy, etc.
- Cost of past and future medical treatments
- Past and future travelling expenses to obtain medical treatment
- Past and future loss of earnings
- Loss of future earning potential or promotional prospects
- Cost of employing a domestic worker or care give to assist you as a result of your injuries as well as the costs of modifying your home in order to accommodate for your injuries
Damages arising from death of the breadwinner
- Funeral expenses
- Past medical expenses
- Loss of maintenance / support
The cost of instituting the claim:
There will be significant disbursements that will be incurred in respect of paying for medical and other experts, time and for the completion of reports and their time to testify at trial. In addition, there are the costs of Advocates, sheriffs and other disbursements which must be accounted for. Should we be satisfied that your claim has sufficient merit, our firm will cover the cost of these disbursements on your behalf and recover same once the claim has been finalised.
We offer our clients the option of instructing us on a contingency fee basis (i.e. no win-no fee) as we are well aware of the financial implications of litigation in these types of matters. Our fees then are not payable up front, but rather we will limit our fees to a maximum agreed percentage, as regulated by legislation, which is then deducted from the payment received and only should we be successful.
Other forms of personal injury:
Our firm is able to assist in any other form of personal injury including but not limited to medical malpractice, Road Accident Fund claims, shootings or assault by the Police.