Pursuing A Railway Accident Claim In South Africa: Your Path To Justice
The rail services sector in South Africa is primarily controlled and operated by state-owned agencies. These entities have specific responsibilities towards the public who utilize their train services, which include upholding the duty of care. This duty ensures commuters are entitled to a particular safety standard while traveling on public transportation. Therefore, you might be entitled to make a railway accident claim if you are injured using one of these services.
Suppose you wish to pursue a railway accident claim in South Africa. In that case, you should ensure that you seek medical attention, document any injuries you received, report the incident to the railway authorities, consult with a personal injury attorney, gather supporting evidence, and submit your claim.
A large percentage of the population of South Africa uses the railway as their primary source of transportation. With so many people catching the trains, there are undoubtedly going to be accidents occurring. Before submitting a railway accident claim, you should first ensure that you know in what instances you might be entitled to make a claim and then what steps you should follow if you are injured while using a railway service.
When Might You Be Entitled To Make A Railway Accident Claim?
In some instances, injuries while using a railway service result from the passenger’s wrongful act or negligence. However, sometimes injuries result from a situation that resulted due to no fault of the passenger. These sorts of unforeseen accidents include the following:
- Getting pushed or falling out of a train
- Falling and hurting yourself on Metrorail property
- Getting pushed or falling on the train platform
- Falling when you are boarding or disembarking from a train
- Are a dependant of someone who died due to an accident while on a train
- Getting injured in a train accident – including derailments, train fires, and collisions
5 Steps To Following When Pursuing A Railway Accident Claim
If you are one of the unlucky few who get injured while using a railway facility and you believe you have a legitimate claim against the railway service for damages, the following steps will help you on your path.
Step 1: Seek Immediate Medical Attention And Document Injuries
Your well-being is of utmost importance. It is essential to prioritize your well-being by promptly seeking medical attention for any injuries you may have sustained following a railway accident. Remember, some injuries may not be immediately apparent, so it is vital to have a professional evaluation to ensure your health and safety.
Seeking prompt medical care helps prioritize your recovery and establishes a crucial link between the accident and your injuries. Be sure to document your injuries thoroughly. Take photographs of visible wounds or bruises and keep copies of medical reports and relevant medical records. These records will serve as critical evidence when building your case.
Step 2: Report The Incident To The Railway Authority
Following the accident, reporting the incident to the relevant railway authority, such as PRASA (the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa), is essential as this agency runs Metrorail.
This report should include the date, time, and location of the accident, as well as a clear description of what transpired. A prompt incident report ensures that an official record is created, which can be valuable evidence in supporting your claim.
Make sure to keep a copy of this report for your records. Maintaining a record of any correspondence or communication with PRASA or its representatives is also advisable throughout the claims process.
Step 3: Consult With A Railway Accident Lawyer
Navigating the legal process can be complex, especially when dealing with a large entity like PRASA. Consulting with an experienced lawyer can significantly enhance your chances of a successful claim. A knowledgeable lawyer will assess the details of your case, guide you through the legal requirements, and help build a strong claim on your behalf.
Step 4: Gather Evidence To Support Your Claim
Gathering all the evidence that you can to support your case is essential. This evidence will help establish liability and demonstrate the accident’s impact on your life. Some critical pieces of evidence to consider include the following:
- Witness Statements: Gather statements from any witnesses present during the accident. Their testimonies can provide valuable insight into the circumstances surrounding the incident.
- Accident Scene Documentation: If possible, take photographs of the accident scene, including any visible damages or hazardous conditions. These photographs can help recreate the scene and provide evidence of negligence or unsafe conditions.
- CCTV Footage: If there were surveillance cameras near the accident, try to obtain the footage. CCTV footage can provide valuable evidence of the events during and leading up to the accident.
- Police Reports: If law enforcement officials were present at the accident scene, obtain a copy of the police report. This report may contain important details and findings regarding the incident.
- Medical Records: Collect and organize all medical records, including doctor’s reports, diagnoses, treatment plans, and invoices. These records will demonstrate the extent of your injuries and the medical expenses you have incurred due to the accident.
A personal injury lawyer with experience in these sorts of cases can assist you in collecting and organizing this evidence, ensuring its relevance and admissibility in court.
Step 5: Negotiation And Litigation
You can often resolve your railway accident claim through negotiation and settlement discussions. Your lawyer will negotiate with PRASA’s legal representatives to secure a fair and just settlement that compensates you for your injuries, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and any other relevant damages.
If you cannot reach an agreement through negotiations, your lawyer will guide you through the litigation process. This process involves filing a formal lawsuit and presenting your case in court. Throughout this process, your lawyer will work diligently to advocate for your rights and represent your best interests.
Key Aspects To Remember When Initiating A Railway Accident Claim
There are several aspects that you should keep in mind if you are injured in a railway accident, including but not limited to the following:
- You will need to report the incident to PRASA within six months of it occurring.
- Typically, you will need to initiate your claim within three years of the accident occurring – exceptions to this rule include if the injured person is a minor or if the injuries only show their severity years later.
- You may claim damages if the breadwinner of your family was killed during a railway accident or due to injuries sustained during the accident.
- Unfortunately, you cannot claim for the death of a child.
- Typically, railway accident claims take between 3 – 5 years.
Experiencing a railway accident can be traumatic, but luckily, you don’t have to face the aftermath alone. By following the previously mentioned steps, you can navigate the legal processes involved confidently and enhance the likelihood of a favorable claim against PRASA.
At Burnett Attorneys & Notaries, we understand that railway accident claim cases are often emotional and uncertain. Due to this, we ensure to treat each case with the sensitivity it deserves and are dedicated to fighting for our client’s rights. Our extensive experience in these matters lets us advise you on whether or not you have a legitimate railway accident claim. We feel confident enough in our team that we follow a no-win no-fee policy. Please book a consultation today, and let us help you on your path to justice.