In a motor vehicle accident, two kinds of damage (loss) may be suffered. These are:
- personal injury, for example cuts, bruises, broken bones, shock, death
- property damage, for example damage to cars, motor cycles, clothing, luggage.
In recovering compensation for these damages different insurance policies often apply and it is advisable to handle each claim separately. While the extent of personal injuries may be unclear for some time, the cost of repair of a vehicle is usually apparent immediately and the owner will want the vehicle back as soon as possible.
In both cases it is important to realise that there is a limited time in which to commence legal action. In the case of personal injury the time limit is three years [see Limitation of Actions Act 1936 (SA) s 36] and in the case of property damage the time limit is six years [see Limitation of Actions Act 1936 (SA) s 35]. Both time limits run from the date of the accident.
It is possible to sue initially for property damage only and to sue for personal injuries later, or vice versa.
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