Yup. You read that right. An incredible statistic.
Now imagine for a moment that you’ve been in an accident. We know it’s not a pleasant thought, but it is something very worth considering, especially with South Africa’s many unique challenges on the road.
However. If you were in a car accident in the past 3 years and it was not your fault, you can still claim from the guilty party, even if you are uninsured.
Being involved in a motor vehicle accident is most often a traumatic experience. More so if it left you out of pocket because you did not have insurance on your vehicle, or your insurance declined the claim for some reason. The financial impact is felt even more severely if the accident was not your fault!
Where to start when the accident was not your fault, and you want to claim damages from the guilty party
Firstly, let us give you some valuable context. Generally, people have no idea where to start when they want to claim from the guilty party after an accident. There are three scenarios to discuss here:
- In many instances, the vehicle might still be financed, which could leave you in a situation where you need to keep on paying instalments to a financial institution, while not having the finances to have your vehicle repaired.
- Should you try to claim against the guilty party’s insurance, they might be giving you the run-around and frustrate you to such an extent, that you give up.
- Or you might receive an unfair offer, which they will hope you accept simply to get something out of this (already) raw deal.
If the accident happened within the borders of South Africa, you have 3 years to claim your damages from the guilty party, unless the other vehicle was state-owned. In this case, you need to lodge your claim within 6 months from when you became aware of this fact, with the relevant organ of state. Typical organs of state vehicles would be SAPD, SADF, Municipality owned vehicles, etc.
Whether you will be able to claim your damages from the other party will depend on the laws and regulations of the Motor Law of South Africa.
Now that context has been given, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of where to start
To start with this action against the guilty party, it is your responsibility to prove your claim. This will refer to the merit (how the accident occurred) and the quantum (financial damage suffered).
To do so, you will need to:
- Identify the legal owner of the vehicle causing the damage to your property/vehicle, as well as the driver at the time of the accident.
- Establish the coalition between the two (if someone other than the legal owner drove the vehicle)
- Give a detailed description of how the accident occurred.
- Substantiate your financial loss with documentation to that effect.
- Provide photographs of the actual accident, damage to the vehicles involved, and where (location) the accident took place. This can greatly improve your chances of a successful claim against the guilty party.
- Obtain the accident report from the SAPD or Traffic Department, which can include vital information to prove your claim or trace the other party.
- If possible, provide an eyewitness statement or a version from somebody who can confirm your version of the incident. It can make all the difference between a successful claim or not.
If you know what process to follow, it could absolutely be worth your time and effort in the end. Don’t give up!
The sooner you start this process after the date of the incident, the bigger your chance of success will be. If you wait too long, documentation can go missing, eyewitnesses may not remember the detail of the accident and is therefore not willing to testify, or there might be difficulty tracing the legal owner or driver of the vehicle, etc.
Unless you try, you will never know if there is any possibility to recover at least some of your losses.
Alternatives to using an attorney for this process are available. Google “notyourfault.co.za” to reach Excel Recovery Services for assistance. We will ensure that you get a fair offer, using our extensive knowledge of the South African Motor Law and the correct application of the apportionment of damages, if applicable.
Vehicle accidents can be very traumatic and result in great financial losses. If it was not your fault, Excel Recovery Services and Phetolo ERS can assist to turn negative impacts into positive outcomes. Help is only a click away: