CAN I SUE A SHOPPING CENTRE IF I SLIP AND FALL?

By law, owners of businesses or property are required to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the general public. At minimum, owners or managers are required to warn the public of any potential dangers they have caused, are aware of or believe could occur.

So if a shopping centre has not met these requirements and you’re injured on their property as a result, you may have a valid claim. These are a few examples of the requirements shopping centres should have in place:

  1. demarcate dangerous areas;
  2. remove obstructions from walkways;
  3. light an area adequately;
  4. repair holes and cracks in the pavement; and
  5. put up railings or barriers.

Would my claim be valid?

The law does not require individuals to watch their every step. It is reasonable to assume that people look around them as they browse grocery shelves at the shops. A successful slip and fall claim is mainly dependent on proving that the injured person was less negligent than the owner of the premises where they were injured.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Would a reasonable person, such as a property owner, foresee the reasonable possibility that his management or administration may injure another person, causing them to slip and fall?
  2. Could the property owner have done something to prevent the accident that resulted in the claim. For instance, could the occurrence of a slippery floor have been prevented and could it have been mopped up before someone climbed the stairs?
  3. Did the owner take steps to prevent the accident?

Details to collect if you want to make a claim

  1. The details (name, contact number and address) of the person in charge of the premises.
  2. Take photographs of the area where you were injured.
  3. You must contact the legal representatives of the business.
  4. You must get the relevant medical documents as well as the invoices detailing the procedures.

Reference

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

COMPENSATION FOR A FATAL HOLIDAY RESORT ACCIDENT

Emily and Nathan were a happily married couple in their early thirties with two minor children. Emily was a stay at home mom and Nathan was the breadwinner of the family. The family decided to take a vacation in Sun City, which ended tragically when Nathan was fatally injured on a Valley of the Waves ride. Who was to take care of the family now that Nathan was no longer there and who was to pay the price for the family holiday that ended in a tragic loss?

Negligence

If the question of negligence is hanging in the air, then the obvious word to pop into one’s mind would be that of delict. In Kruger v Coetzee 1966 (2) SA 428 A 430E-G the formulation for negligence was established by Holmes in two steps:

(a) a diligens paterfamilias in the position of the defendant –

  • would foresee the reasonable possibility of his conduct injuring another in his person or property and causing him patrimonial loss; and
  • would take reasonable steps to guard against such occurrence; and

(b) the defendant failed to take such steps.

In the case of Za v Smith (20134/2014) [2015] ZASCA 75 (27 May 2015) the father and breadwinner of the family died in a tragic accident while on vacation at a mountain resort close to Ceres, Western Cape, after falling off a sheer precipice (a steep rock or cliff). The wife of the deceased took the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal, who considered three elements, namely wrongfulness, negligence and causation.

The background facts were taken into account, namely the fact that the park was used for recreational purposes for the public upon paying an entry fee. Furthermore, the 150 metres gorge drop where the deceased fell to his death was not visible, especially in snowy weather, nor were there any warning signs.

Wrongfulness

The court a quo did not find the Respondents to be wrongful as they did not have the duty to warn guests of the danger that was blatantly apparent to them. However, in the above-mentioned case it was reiterated that the test for wrongfulness is whether it would be reasonable to have expected the defendant to take positive measures, while the test for negligence is whether the reasonable person would have taken such positive measures. Confusion between the two elements is almost inevitable. It would obviously be reasonable to expect the defendant to do what the reasonable person would have done. The result is that conduct which is found to be negligent would inevitably also be wrongful and visa versa.”[1]

Conclusion

If the above-mentioned case is taken into consideration then Emily would most likely be successful in her application for compensation for herself, as well as in her capacity as mother of the two minor children, if it is found that Sun City Holiday Resort was negligent and wrongful and had causation.

Reference:

  • [1] Za v Smith (20134/2014) [2015] ZASCA 75 (27 May 2015)

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

MY DOG JUST ATTACKED SOMEONE

Due to circumstances beyond your control your dog bites someone. There is blood, an injury, and a shocked and angry victim. Luckily it is a small wound, but before you can mouth an apology, the traumatised person storms off with the words: “You’ll pay for this; see you in court!”

Are you liable for the damage caused by your dog?

Well, you could be, depending on the circumstances. Damages caused by a pet can be claimed from the owner through the Actio de Pauperie. You will be liable for damages if the complainant is successful in proving:

  1. that you were the owner of the animal at the time of infliction of the injury;
  1. that the animal is domesticated;
  1. that the animal acted contrary to the nature of a domesticated animal; and
  1. that the conduct of the animal caused the plaintiff’s damage.

How can you defend your dog?

The onus will be on you, as owner of the dog, to prove a valid defence. You will not be liable for the complainant’s damages if you can successfully prove:

  1. that your poor dog was provoked by the culpable conduct of the complainant;
  1. that someone else was in charge of your dog when the injury was inflicted, in other words a third party had control over the animal and the damage occurred due to that person’s negligence;
  1. the unlawful presence of the plaintiff on the premises, in other words that the injured person had no legal right to be there;
  1. that the plaintiff knew of the risk and voluntarily accepted the risk; and
  1. that the owner is not responsible for damages caused by his animal in terms of an existing indemnity agreement between the parties.

The circumstances and actions of the injured person will determine what happens. If someone came onto your property uninvited and got attacked by your dog, then it’s not your fault. However, if you were walking your dog in the park and they randomly attacked someone, without being provoked, then you are liable.

Owning a dog can be a very rewarding experience and a boundless source of unconditional love, but at the same time it also brings great responsibility. If you own a dog, you also have a responsibility to prevent it from causing harm to anyone or their property.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

WHAT TO DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?

If a driver of a vehicle, at the time when the vehicle is involved in or contributes to any accident in which any person is killed or injured or suffers damage in respect of any property, including a vehicle, or animal, must report the accident to a police or traffic officer at the scene of the accident as soon as possible, unless he or she is incapable of doing so by reason of injuries sustained by him or her in the accident. In the case where a person is killed or injured, it must be within 24 hours after the occurrence of the accident, or in any other case on the first working day after the accident.

What must a person do after a motor vehicle accident (“accident”)?

  1. Call the police or report the accident at the nearest police station within 24 hours if a person is killed or injured; or on the first working day after the accident if no person was killed or injured.
  2. Write down the name of the police officer spoken to and the accident report’s reference number.
  3. Co-operate with all emergency personnel and police who respond to the accident.
  4. Get the details of all other motor vehicles involved in the accident, such as the drivers, names, identity numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, description of the motor vehicles, the registration numbers, and any relevant details from the licence discs; the date, time and address of the accident; the weather and road conditions when the accident occurred; and any other information that may be relevant.
  5. If an employee is driving a motor vehicle on behalf of his/her employer, then the details of the driver and the employer must be taken.
  6. Write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all potential witnesses of the accident.
  7. Take photographs or a video of the following: the scene of the accident, from all angles; the surrounding area; the injuries; and any damage to property.
  8. Draw a sketch plan of the scene of the accident and make sure that it contains a fixed point so that it can easily be traced. Also make a statement about how the accident happened. This sketch and statement will remind a person of all the details relating to the accident at a later stage.
  9. If a person has been injured, a doctor must be consulted immediately, even if the injury is not serious.
  10. If the person is insured, that person has to notify his/her insurance or broker as soon as possible. Write down the name of the person spoken to at the insurance and the reference number of the claim.

What must a person NOT do after an accident?

  1. Move his/her motor vehicle; unless it is necessary for safety or required by law.
  2. Subject himself/herself to further injury by standing or waiting in an area near traffic or other safety hazards.
  3. Leave the scene of an accident until the police tell him/her to do so.
  4. Throw away any potential evidence, such as defective products, important documents, or torn or blood-stained clothing.
  5. Engage in discussions of fault with anyone as that can be considered evidence in court – do not admit liability.
  6. Agree to settlement terms without discussing the matter with an attorney.

Although involvement in a motor accident is always a traumatic experience, try to remember that nearly all accidents have legal consequences. For instance, a criminal charge of driving without a licence, drunken driving or culpable homicide may follow. Civil consequences may include claims for damage to property, or for personal injury, and may arise whether there is a criminal charge or not.

References:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

SLAAG REGVERDIG MET NOODWEER

OPSOMMING

Noodweer – ‘n regverdigbare manier om ‘n onregmatige aanval af te weer. Hierdie artikel sal die vereistes bespreek waaraan voldoen moet word om met die regverdigingsgrond van noodweer te slaag.

ARTIKEL

 In Suid-Afrika is gewelddadige misdaad ‘n groot bekommernis. Kan ons iets doen om dit te stop? In ons reg is ons geregtig om ons eie belange, sowel as die belange van ander te beskerm, maar ongelukkig ken baie min burgers die omvang van die verweer.

Iemand tree in noodweer op en sy handeling is gevolglik regmatig, indien hy hom verweer teen ‘n wederregtelike aanval wat reeds begin het of wat onmiddellik dreigend is op sy lewe, liggaamlike integriteit, eiendom of enige ander beskermingswaardige regsbelang. Die afweerhandeling moet egter noodsaaklik wees ten einde die bedreigde belang te beskerm, dit moet teen die aanvaller gerig wees en dit moet in ‘n redelike verhouding tot die aanval wees.

Die vereistes waaraan voldoen moet word om met die verweer te slaag, is soos volg:

  1. a) Die aanval moet wederregtelik wees. Dit beteken daar moet nie ‘n regtens regverdigbare rede vir die aanval bestaan nie. ’n Voorbeeld hiervan sal wees as daar toestemming tussen die partye bestaan om mekaar aan te val, soos ‘n boksgeveg. Ongelukkig is daar nie ‘n geslote lys van regverdigbare aanvalle nie en elke geval sal op sy eie feite beoordeel moet word aan die hande van publieke beleid; en
  2. b) Die aanval moet gerig wees teen ’n belang wat die reg as beskermingswaardig ag; en
  3. c) Die aanval moet dreigend wees, maar nog nie afgeloop nie; en
  4. d) Dit moet teen die aanvaller gerig wees; en
  5. e) Die afweerhandeling moet noodsaaklik wees om die bedreigde reg te beskerm; en
  6. f) Daar moet ’n redelike verhouding tussen die aanval en die afweerhandeling wees.

 Die laaste twee vereistes genoem in “e” en “f” sal in meeste gevalle die twee problematiese vereistes wees om aan te voldoen om sodoende te slaag met die verweer van noodweer. Om te bepaal of die afweershandeling noodsaaklik was sal post facto (na die geval) bepaal moet word. Dít maak dit natuurlik baie moeilik vir ‘n person wat in so ‘n moeilike posisie geplaas word om te oorweeg of sy handeling aan die vereistes van selfverdediging gaan voldoen, aangesien hy soms nie die tyd sal hê om te dink nie. Die hof sal al die feite van die geval oorweeg en bepaal of die afweerhandeling noodsaaklik was om sy belange te beskerm.

Die vereiste dat daar ‘n redelike verhouding moet wees tussen die aanval en die afweerhandeling word ook na die tyd bepaal en dit maak dit weereens moeilik vir die person wat hom in so ‘n moeilike posisie bevind. Daar moet beslis ‘n balans wees tussen die aanval en die afweerhandeling. Jy kan nie ‘n persoon wat jou met ‘n vlieëplak slaan doodskiet nie. As die omvang van noodweer reg verstaan en gebruik word, sal dit dus ‘n baie effektiewe manier wees om onregmatige aanvalle stop te sit.

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies. (E&OE)

SPORTBESERINGS: WIE IS AANSPREEKLIK?

Kontak sporte gee dikwels daartoe aanleiding dat die spelers daarvan ernstig beseer word. Kan iemand aanspreeklik gehou word vir hierdie beserings, of neem jy, as deelnemer, inherent die risiko wanneer jy aan hierdie sportsoorte deelneem. Die regspraak het egter belangrike beginsels is vasgestel met verwysing na die bogenoemde kwessie. Eerstens is dit belangrik om deeglik bewus te wees van die betrokke sportsoort se reëls, wat toelaatbaar is, al dan nie, alvorens jy aan die sportsoort deelneem.

Wanneer jy aan ʼn sport deelneem, stem jy in tot die moontlikheid van beserings? In die 2012-Appèlhofsaak van Hattingh v Roux, is hierdie stelling oorweeg. In hierdie saak het die appellant die respondent ernstig beseer deur gebruik te maak van ʼn skrum tegniek, die jack-knife.

Die Appèlhofregter, Plasket, het ten gunste van die respondent beslis. In die uitspraak is daar beslis dat die appellant opsetlik die respondent beseer het en dat sy aksies as onregmatig beskou moet word. Die regsbeginsel van Volenti Non Fit Iniuria, of die toestemming tot potensiële skade, sou onder normale omstandighede ʼn persoon beskerm wat iemand in ʼn sportwedstryd beseer, maar die regsbeginsel (Volenti Non Fit Iniuria) geld slegs waar die besering plaasvind onder normale omstandighede gedurende ʼn wedstryd.

Regter Plasket het gesê dat: “Eerstens was die jack-knife beweging wat deur Alex uitgevoer is in teenstelling met die reëls van die wedstryd. Verder was die beweging ook in teenstelling met die gees en die konvensies van die sport. Tweedens was die beweging ook vooruitbeplan, en was dit dus doelbewus uitgevoer. Derdens, alhoewel een van die doelwitte was om veld te wen met die skrum, was ʼn definitiewe oorweging ook om die opposisie te intimideer, spesifiek Ryan. Dit was ook uiters gevaarlik.”[1]

Plasket AJ gaan verder:

“aangesien hierdie optrede aanleiding gegee het tot so ʼn ernstige oortreding van die reëls, kan dit nie as die norm beskou word vir ʼn gewone rugby wedstryd nie, en is dit ongelooflik gevaarlik. It would ‘not have constituted conduct which rugby players would accept as part and parcel of the normal risks.”[2]

Dit blyk duidelik vanuit hierdie uitspraak dat die hoofkwessie om te oorweeg wanneer daar geëvalueer word of ʼn persoon aanspreeklik gehou kan word ʼn ernstige besering in ʼn kontaksport, die vraag is of die besering plaasgevind het in die normale gang van die wedstryd.

Appelregter Brand, het in In alternatiewe uitspraak die volgende stelling gemaak:

“I believe that conduct which constitutes a flagrant contravention of the rules of rugby and which is aimed at causing serious injury or which is accompanied by full awareness that serious injury may ensue, will be regarded as wrongful and hence attract legal liability for the resulting harm”.[3]

Daar word gestel dat waar ʼn aksie van so aard is dat dit ʼn blatante oortreding van die reëls van die spel is, die speler homself met die nagevolge van die oortreding konsolideer en opsetlik voortgaan met die handeling, behoort die speler aanspreeklik gehou te word vir sy aksies. Dit is belangrik dat die betekenis van hierdie stelling nie is dat enige besering wat voortspruit uit die oortreding van ʼn reël met regsgevolge gepaard moet gaan nie, maar slegs gevalle wat so ernstig en blatant is, dat dit wel nodig is.

Dit sou ʼn onnodige las plaas op ʼn speler om nie enige reël te verbreek nie, uit die vrees dat ʼn speler in die ander span beseer kan raak en dat regsgevolge daaruit mag spruit. Dink jou in dat ʼn rugbyspeler deliktueer aanspreeklik gehou word vir die feit dat hy van sy voete af gegaan het by ʼn losgemaal, ʼn algemene fout in rugby. Die beredenering agter die Roux-uitspraak, is bloot dat waar ʼn speler opsetlik en blatant die reëls van die spel verbreek en weet dat die oortreding ernstige beserings kan veroorsaak, kan die speler aanspreeklik gehou word.

Daar is dus geen rede om die manier waarop daar ʼn aan ʼn sport deelgeneem word, aan te pas bloot uit die vrees van regsgevolge nie. Wees egter bewus van die feit dat kwaadwillige aksies op die sportveld ernstige gevolge mag hê

Bibliografie

Artikels

Labuschagne JMT “Straf- en Delikregtelike Aanspreeklikheid vir Sportbeserings” Stell LR 1998 1 72

 

Regspraak

Roux v Hattingh 2012 (6) SA 428 (SCA)

[1] Roux v Hattingh 2012 (6) SA 428 (SCA) at Par27

[2] Roux v Hattingh 2012 (6) SA 428 (SCA) at Par28

[3] Labuschagne JMT “Straf- en Delikregtelike Aanspreeklikheid vir Sportbeserings” Stell LR 1998 1 72 78

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies.