Metrorail / PRASA claims for train-related injuries

13 Jun 2022

PRASA, the state-owned enterprise that owns train operator Metrorail, has faced many claims for train-related injuries over the years.

As passenger-train operators, both Metrorail and PRASA have a legal obligation to put reasonable measures in place to protect commuters on their trains and in their stations.

If they fail to do so and someone is injured on a train or their property, that person can claim compensation from PRASA if they can prove negligence.

In this article we cover:

When you can claim compensation from Metrorail / PRASA

If someone is injured on Metrorail or PRASA property, he or she might be able to claim compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

Dependants of a person who dies as the result of a rail accident may also be able to claim compensation for loss of support.

Types of accidents for which Metrorail or PRASA may be found liable include:

  • being pushed or falling on the station platform;
  • falling or being pushed out of a train, while stationary or in motion;
  • falling while embarking or disembarking;
  • falling on Metrorail property; or
  • being injured at a level crossing.

What compensation you can claim

If you’re injured in a train accident, you may be able to claim for medical expenses incurred as a result. These can be immediate expenses and future expenses due to your injuries.

If you miss out on work due to the accident and don’t get your usual wages, you can also claim for loss of earnings. If your ability to earn a living is impaired, you can claim for loss-of-earning capacity going forward.

Victims of train accidents can also claim general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenities in life, such as being physically or mentally impaired.

What you need to support a claim

Before you pursue a claim against PRASA, you’ll need to collect as much supporting evidence as possible. This will include, but may not be limited to:

  • a valid train ticket from the day of the accident (if a passenger);
  • witness statements;
  • hospital records and statements or testimony from doctors; and
  • relevant photographic or video evidence, such as CCTV footage.

Your legal team will be able to help you gather this evidence and may cover any costs involved if they work on a no-win, no-fee basis.

PRASA needs to be informed of your intent to claim compensation within six months of the date of the accident.

Examples of Metrorail and PRASA claims and payouts

Landmark judgment in DSC Attorneys case

In November 2021, the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a landmark judgment in the case of a man who, during a robbery, was thrown from an open train door in 2011 and sustained serious injuries.

The claimant was represented by DSC Attorneys.

In 2018, the Courts found in favour of the claimant, ordering PRASA to pay compensation for the man’s medical costs, loss of income and general damages.

PRASA appealed the decision – and in 2021, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the claimant, finding PRASA negligent for not ensuring proper operation of the train doors (which should have been closed while the train was in motion).

Other claims involving injuries due to open doors on moving trains

In 2019, it was revealed that PRASA paid out R103 million in compensation to people injured as a result of open doors on moving trains.

Speaking in April 2019, Transport Minister Blade Nzimande said five people died and 138 had been injured since March the previous year because train doors were not closed as they should be.

In an earlier case, a passenger fell from an open door on a moving train and was hit by another train.

He claimed that PRASA failed in its duty to ensure the train doors were closed while the train was in motion. PRASA contested the claim. The courts ruled in the passenger’s favour.

Claim involving injury due to lack of maintenance

In a different kind of incident, a passenger was hit by a rock that was thrown through a broken train carriage window. The passenger was struck in the right eye and ended up losing sight in that eye.

PRASA was found negligent because the broken window should have been replaced. The passenger was awarded damages.

Claims for train-related injuries

DSC Attorneys specialises in personal injury claims, including Metrorail / PRASA claims for train-related injuries. Our personal injury attorneys and medico-legal team can assess your claim, help prepare supporting evidence and represent you in legal proceedings, giving you the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve. We work on a no win, no fee basis.

See also:

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
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