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It’s that time of the year again –The season of joy, festivities and good times is upon us.  Like most people, we tend to ease up on our safety measures when we’re in holiday mode. This is when accidents and other unfortunate incidents can possibly occur, which can potentially derail this precious time. The best thing to do is to take control by making yourself aware of how the law relates to the following common festive season safety issues.

Safety at home whilst on vacation

The most fundamental way to ensure the safety of your home – and the contents thereof – is to make certain that it is insured. The unfortunate reality is that the festive season seems to be the peak season for house breakings whilst on vacation. Sadly, failing to insure your property can be an expensive oversight should something ever go wrong.

We need to be wary of exclusion clauses in our insurance policies. Exclusion clauses reduce the scope of coverage by removing certain risks/perils within the insurance policy or contract.

Even when your claim falls within the initial scope of coverage, coverage may still be excluded if the insurance company is able to show that an exclusion clause applies. We therefore suggest speaking to your legal advisor before signing your insurance contract. In this manner you are able to assess what is excluded from your policy. So, whilst on vacation, you may take the necessary steps to ensure extra safety measures for perils that do not fall within the ambit of coverage from your policies.

Safety whilst travelling abroad

Being in a foreign country may be daunting, especially during the festive season with all the hustle and bustle. To get the most out of your trip and avoid unexpected occurrences ruining your holiday, every traveller should consider securing travel insurance.

When selecting which travel insurance policy to go for, it’s important to check how many consecutive days abroad you’ll be covered for. Limits may vary depending on the insurance provider, and if you go over this limit, even if it’s only by a day, you will invalidate your insurance.

Like most insurance policies, pre-existing medical conditions may be excluded. Therefore full disclosure of any medical conditions or ailments should be made. Your insurer has the right to request access to your medical records. If it finds anything you haven’t declared it may refuse to pay out.

Checking exactly how much you’ll be able to claim back in the event that you lost your wallet or had to cancel your holiday is also important. After all, the last thing you want is to make a claim on your travel insurance only to find you’re not covered for what you have lost.

Road safety over the festive season

The Festive Season is a time for relaxation and loved-ones coming together. This means that the roads are far busier as people travel to parties and holiday destinations. The natural consequence of this is a marked increase in motor vehicle accidents, which in turn gives rise to damages claims. It is therefore important to be aware of the law relating to motor vehicle accident damages, as you may want to pursue a damages claim against another driver, or could personally become liable for such damages in the event that you are involved in an accident this holiday season.

Can you claim damages to your motor vehicle from the Road Accident Fund (“RAF”)?

No, the RAF does not cover damages to a person’s property, such as:

  • damage to your motor vehicle;
  • damage to other property, such as clothes; or
  • damage to your fence or house when someone drives off the road and into your house.

If you want to claim for your damaged property, you will have to institute a claim in court against the driver of the motor vehicle and/or his/her employer (if they were driving a company motor vehicle).

You have a right to claim for damages caused by injury or death from the RAF if you are a victim of an accident as a result of the wrongful (negligent) driving of another. The RAF may compensate a victim of an accident for injury, and in the event of death it may compensate the dependents of that victim for their loss.

How do you know if the other driver was negligent?

If you are alleging negligence, you will have to show that the other driver did not act reasonably in the circumstances; that the driver should have been able to foresee the damages they caused and should have taken reasonable steps to prevent such damages. Here are some examples of negligent driving:

  • drinking and driving;
  • driving at an excessive speed or in excess of the speed limit;
  • failing to keep a proper look-out;
  • failing to keep the motor vehicle under proper control.

What happens if you are not insured?

If you are insured, you will have to claim damages from your insurance. The insurance company will then have to claim from the person who caused the damages to your insured motor vehicle or property.

If you are not insured, you will have to claim from the person who caused the damages to your motor vehicle or property.

If your claim is for less than R15 000, you may pursue such claim in the Small Claims Court. However, if your claim is for more than R15 000, you will have to pursue this claim in the Magistrates’ Court with the assistance of an attorney.

From everyone at Adriaans Attorneys, we wish you a safe, restful and joy-filled Festive Season!

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