With around 2 200 trains operating on the South African rails daily, PRASA/Metrorail has a tremendous responsibility. The agencies are responsible for the safe commuting of over 2,3 million passengers daily.

With the trains being public transport, the agencies can be held accountable for injuries and damages that passengers sustain while using the rail commuting system. They are public service providers, and must therefore ensure proper maintenance of the trains and stations, as well as the infrastructure, including booms, signalling devices and the rail lines.

If you use any of the above and are injured as the direct result of negligence on the part of the agencies or their employees, you have the right to institute a public liability claim against the relevant agency.

Who Can Institute the Public Liability Claim?

Anyone who has sustained physical injuries while boarding or disembarking from the agency owned and managed train can institute a personal injury or public liability claim. A person that is injured on a platform at the railway station, injured because of being hit by a train, or injured while being transported in a train can institute a public liability claim against the relevant agency.

It is also possible for the spouse or child of the deceased passenger to institute a public liability claim for the damages suffered related to the loss of income or support, as the result of the breadwinner’s death directly related to the negligence of the agency in maintaining the trains, rails and public facilities properly, and taking care to ensure the safety of the users of the facilities and trains.

The parent of a minor can also institute the public liability claim if their child has been injured at the facilities operated and owned by the agency, or while commuting on one of their trains, provided that the parent is responsible for the payment of medical and care costs of the injured minor.


The claimant can also institute a public liability claim for the compensation of general and special damages. General damages include compensation for physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of life enjoyment, the inability to participate in relevant activities, a shorter life expectancy, and more.

Compensation can be awarded for special damages, which include the past, current and future medical costs in treatment and care of the injured party, and the past, current and future travelling costs to the places where medical treatment is provided. Such damages also include the loss of income and loss of future income, as well as the cost of employing a caretaker to assist the injured party, and the expenses related to modifications of the injured party’s vehicle or home to make it possible for the injured party to function in the home or use the vehicle.

Damages Related to Death of the Breadwinner

Damages that can be claimed in respect of the death of a breadwinner as the result of negligence on the part of the agency in managing, operating and maintaining the public facilities and transport system include past medical costs, funeral costs, loss of maintenance, and loss of support.

It is important to understand that certain requirements must be met for the claim to be successful, which are best discussed with our attorneys to help you determine the merits of your claim, and to assist you in taking the appropriate legal steps to get compensation for injuries and damages suffered.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We recommend consulting with our attorneys before making decisions solely based on the information provided.