A recent trip along the very windy, and potentially dangerous road through remote farmland and townships in Northern Natal got one of our readers wondering about liability when it comes to car accidents, and what one should do in the event of an accident – this thought came after the person concerned was almost shoved off the road (and over a fairly steep cliff) by the impatient driver of a double cab, intent on taking a few scalps on his way to wherever he was headed.
Our reader knew his own car insurance was up to date as he had just had a message saying “Yay, your premium has just decreased again by another R3.50” Always good to get positive news from someone in the insurance industry! However, what I was concerned about, was if there had been an accident as a result of the other drivers negligence, then what? The law states that a person alleging negligence will have to show that the other driver did not act responsibly. Either they were driving at an excessive speed; they failed to keep a proper lookout; they failed to keep the vehicle under control or they had been drinking and driving.
It’s a sad fact of life that one can still purchase a car in South Africa – and not take out insurance. 65% of cars on the road are apparently uninsured. This legislation should definitely be changed, but until it is, you need to get all your ducks in a row immediately after the accident – should you still be able to do so. Get hold of the police immediately – this is where these great security apps come in to play. You can simply activate your panic button to let your security team know what happened and they will contact the nearest police station and also get someone to the scene of the accident as soon as possible. Once you have the police report, if the driver of the other vehicle is not insured and is responsible for the accident, then you need to take the matter up with your own insurance company immediately, giving them as much detail as possible. The alternative is to take the matter up with the small claims court if the claim is for under R15 000. If it is over that amount, you will need an attorney.
Stay safe – and keep off backroads likely to have a plethora of uninsured drivers!
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Remember that if you have any complicated queries – especially those bordering on the legal side – go straight to the Consumer Council – KZN Consumer Complaints Hotline number: 0800 333 667 which is a free service to the public. OR go to the SMALL CLAIMS COURT in Stanger. This is particularly with regard to money that needs to be claimed back – if it is a small amount. Contact them on 032 551 1201. The only payment involved is the fee payable to the Sheriff – depending on how far he has to travel to serve.