Understanding Slip And Fall Claims In South Africa: Your Guide To Seeking Compensation
Slip and fall accidents can occur at any time and happen to anyone, anywhere. Unfortunately, they can also result in serious injuries that can affect a person’s quality of life, ability to work, and overall well-being. The laws surrounding slip and fall claims can be complex and involve numerous factors. So, understanding what such a claim might entail would be a good idea before submission.
Slip and fall claims typically occur due to slippery floors, damaged surfaces, obstructed walkways, or other un-demarcated dangerous conditions. Claims can be for past and future loss of earnings, past and future medical expenses, and any general damages due to suffering or pain caused by the injury.
If you have suffered damage in a slip and fall accident, you could be entitled to compensation under South African law. Before submitting your claim, you should look at a few crucial factors, such as what a slip and fall claim is, the common causes, what you should do in the event of a slip and fall accident, and other pertinent factors.
What Is A Slip And Fall Claim?
A slip and fall claim is a lawful action taken by an individual injured due to a fall, slip, or trip on someone else’s property. In South Africa, the law requires property owners and occupiers to take reasonable care to prevent accidents and injuries. If they fail to do so and a person is injured, the injured party may have a legal claim against the property owner or occupier for damages.
Common Causes Of Slip And Fall Accidents
Various factors can cause slip and fall accidents, the most common including:
- Wet or slippery floors
- Uneven surfaces
- Inadequate lighting
- Obstacles in walkways
- Un-demarcated dangerous areas
- Damaged surfaces
- Absent railings or barriers
Property occupiers and owners have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent these types of hazards and to warn visitors of any potential dangers.
What You Ought To Do In The Event Of A Slip And Fall Accident In Public
If you have received an injury in a public area due to a slip and fall accident, you should take the following steps to protect your rights and potential compensation claim. These steps include:
1. Seek Medical Attention
After any slip and fall accident, the first thing you should prioritize is to seek medical attention. Being checked out by a medical professional is vital, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent. Keep records of all medical treatment you receive, including any prescribed medications and follow-up appointments you need. You should do this even if you feel fine.
2. Report The Accident
Ensure you report your accident to the property owner or occupier immediately. Make sure to get the name and contact information of the person you speak to and keep a record of the date and time of the conversation. If the accident occurs in a public place, such as a shopping mall or government building, report the accident to the appropriate authorities.
3. Document The Accident Scene
Take relevant photos of the accident scene, including any hazards that caused your fall. Keep any damaged clothing or shoes from the accident as evidence. If there were witnesses to your accident, ask for their contact information in case you need to contact them later.
4. Keep Records
Keep a detailed record of all expenses you incurred related to the accident, including medical bills, lost income, and other costs. Make sure to keep receipts and invoices for all payments.
5. Seek Legal Advice
If you have suffered harm in a slip and fall accident, seeking legal advice as soon as possible is essential. A qualified attorney can help you traverse the legal process and help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. They can also advise you on the relevant Acts and legislation that may apply to your case.
What To Consider Before Submitting A Slip And Fall Claim
You may consider submitting a compensation claim if you have suffered harm in a slip and fall accident. Before you do, there are several factors you should consider to determine whether you have a valid claim and what your chances of success may be. These factors include:
To succeed with a slip and fall claim, you must prove that the property occupier or owner was negligent and failed to take prudent steps to prevent the accident from occurring. Ultimately, this means that you must show that the property occupier or owner knew or should have known about the hazard which caused your fall and failed to take appropriate action to remedy it.
To prove negligence, you must have evidence to support your claim, including photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, medical records, and other documentation demonstrating that the property owner or occupier was at fault.
You must have suffered damages due to the accident to submit a valid claim, including pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and other associated costs.
4. Time Limits
There are time limits for submitting a slip and fall claim, known as the prescription period. In South Africa, the prescription period, governed by The Prescriptions Act 68 of 1969, for personal injury claims is generally three years from the accident date. It is crucial to seek legal advice after the accident swiftly to ensure you do not miss this deadline.
5. Legal Costs
Submitting a slip-and-fall claim can be expensive, and you may need to pay legal fees and other costs associated with the claim. Before submitting a claim, it is essential to consider whether the potential compensation is worth the costs of pursuing the claim.
Proving Negligence in Slip and Fall Claims
To succeed with a slip and fall claim, the injured party must prove that the property owner or occupier was negligent. What this means is that you will need to show that they failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the accident from occurring. Typically, the following factors get considered when determining negligence:
- The nature and extent of the hazard
- The location of the hazard
- The duration of the hazard
- The property owner’s or occupier’s knowledge of the hazard
- Any steps taken to prevent the hazard
Damages in Slip and Fall Claims
If the injured party successfully proves negligence, they may be entitled to damages. Damages can include compensation for:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost income;
- Pain and suffering;
- Other losses resulting from the accident.
Slip and fall claims can be complex, and the legal framework in South Africa is constantly evolving. You need to seek legal advice if you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident to understand your rights and options for seeking compensation. A qualified attorney will be able to guide you through the legal process while helping you to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.
If you believe you have a slip-and-fall claim, please get in touch with us to discuss possible ways we can help you. Our Burnett Attorneys & Notaries team has extensive experience with these types of claims. We will be able to guide you through this time appropriately to ensure that your case sees the best possible outcome.