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)

HOW AND WHEN TO USE THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT

The small claims court (SCC) is for anyone who wants to institute a minor civil claim against someone else. You can also claim against companies and associations. However, the claims are limited to amounts that are less than R15 000. This excludes the State, meaning a person cannot make a claim against a local municipality, for example. Claims made in the SCC are done quickly and cheaply without having to use an attorney and anyone, except juristic persons, are allowed to use them.

Read more about the SCC on The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s website: justice.gov.za

Where do I start?

If you are going to institute a claim against someone else, be smart about it. Don’t make a claim against someone who you know has no money to pay you back, such as an unemployed person.

Before running to the court to make a claim, first contact the person you intend to claim from and ask them to fulfil your request. Let them know you are planning on going to the court to make a claim against them if they don’t comply.

Perhaps the person is not interested in your claim, then send them a written demand letter. The letter should set out the details of the claim, including the amount. Give them at least 14 days from the day of receiving your letter to settle your claim. Make sure they get an actual physical copy of the letter. This can be posted to them, or you can simply take it to them directly.

So 14 days has passed and they didn’t respond. Now you can go to the clerk of the court with documents to institute your claim. Firstly, you will need proof that you delivered the letter of demand. This can be a post office slip, for example. You will also need a contract or document that gives a bases for your claim. Your claims can’t just be based on thin air. Lastly, provide the court with all the details of the person you’re claiming from, such as name, address and phone number.

The summons

The clerk of the court will help you in drawing up the summons. Once the summons is complete a hearing will also be scheduled. You then have to serve the summons to the opposing party (defendant) in person and get them to sign it. Don’t be surprised if they are visibly upset. Remember to make copies of all the documents and keep them. Also give copies to the defendant. The original documents must be handed over to the clerk of the court before the day of the hearing. This information will be kept in the court file.

After they receive the summons, the defendant may deliver a plea (written statement) to the clerk of the court. They may also issue a counterclaim. Regardless of whether the defended institutes a plea or counterclaim, they still have to attend the hearing. On the other hand, the defendant may decide to fulfil your claim before the hearing, you should then issue a written receipt and let the clerk of the court know that you won’t be continuing with the case.

Going to the hearing

You and the defendant must appear in court in person, attorneys or lawyers are not necessary. Remember to bring along all the documents on which your claim is based, there’s no point in showing up empty-handed. If you have witnesses, make sure they also come with you to the hearing. The SCC proceedings are basic and straight-forward. As mentioned, no attorneys are involved. As the proceedings begin, answer any questions that the commissioner of the court asks you. If you want and the commissioner agrees, then you can direct questions to the defendant.

The final judgement

After the proceedings have been completed, the court will make a judgement, which is final. There may, however, be some grounds for review. If the judgement is against you, then you should settle any order for costs. Since the court judgement is final, you have to abide by it. You can’t change your mind afterwards.

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)

WIE IS AANSPREEKLIK VIR DIE SKADE IN ‘N MOTORONGELUK?

Wat gebeur met my motor nadat ek betrokke was in ‘n ongeluk en wie is verantwoordelik vir die skade?

Bo en behalwe die emosionele en finansiële spanning wat dit vir die persoon en sy familie veroorsaak, is daar ‘n hele paar regsbeginsels wat van toepassing is.

Die mees prominente regsveld wat van toepassing is as mense betrokke is in ‘n motorongeluk is dié van deliktereg. Deliktereg speel ‘n belangrike rol in die bepaling van wie aanspreeklik is vir die skade, indien enige. As die skade veroorsaak is as gevolg van die opsetlike of nalatige handeling of versuim van iemand anders (die derde party), sal daardie persoon gewoonlik aanspreeklik wees vir die skade wat die motoreienaar gely het. Daar is wel sekere verwere tot die beskikking van die derde party, maar dit val buite die bestek van hierdie artikel.

Die versekeringsreg kan ook hierin ‘n groot rol speel indien die motoreienaar versekering het. Die leerstuk van subrogasie sal hier van toepassing wees. Dit is ‘n aanvaarde beginsel in die versekeringsreg dat wanneer ‘n versekeraar ‘n versekerde volledig vrywaar teen verlies wat deur ‘n derde party veroorsaak is, is die versekeraar geregtig om in die naam van die versekerde die skade van die derde party te verhaal. Die beleid onderliggend aan hierdie leerstuk is om te verhoed dat die versekerde dubbele vergoeding ontvang vanaf sowel die versekeraar as die derde party.

Vanuit ‘n prosedurele oogpunt verkry die versekeraar die reg om regstappe in die versekerde se naam teen die derde party in te stel indien die versekerde steeds ‘n onbevredigde eis teen die derde party het. Hierdie beginsel veroorsaak dat die versekeraar dominus litis (meester in die geding) word, maar net in naam en ten behoewe van die versekerde. Die versekeraar word geregtig daarop om die verrigtinge in die naam van die versekerde te voer met die voorbehoud dat die versekeraar die versekerde volledig moes gevrywaar het en hom of haar ook moes gevrywaar het teen die risiko van regskoste wat uit die verrigtinge mag onstaan. Die versekeraar het geen onafhanklike eis teen die derde party nie, maar dwing net die versekerde se eis af vir die versekeraar se eie voordeel.

Om op te som, die motoreienaar sal self die derde party aanspreeklik kan hou mits hy nie versekering het nie. Indien hy wel het, en hy eis die skade van die versekering, sal die versekering die skade van die derde party verhaal in die naam van die versekerde. Die verhouding tussen die versekerde en die versekering is ‘n kontraktuele verhouding en indien enige van die partye versuim om hulle pligte na te kom, kan hulle aanspreeklik gehou word op grond van kontrakbreuk.

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)