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Accident payouts voluntary, says Prasa

May 30 2011 11:51 Sapa

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Johannesburg - Compensation to those injured in two Gauteng train accidents was on a voluntary basis, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) said on Monday.

"Prasa reiterates its position that financial assistance to the two train accident victims is done on a voluntary basis to the affected individuals," said spokeswoman Nana Zenani.

She said that those who opted for the financial assistance would sign an agreement that they would not pursue further legal claims, but this was carefully explained to claimants.

"The financial assistance is separate from medical costs which are being covered entirely by Prasa," she said.

Prasa was responding to allegations in the media that immediate compensation was being offered in order to stave off larger personal injury law suits arising from two train accidents this year.

On May 19, 857 people were injured when two trains collided in Meadowlands.

In early April, a train driver was killed and 200 people were injured in a rail collision between Akasiaboom and Winternest train stations in Pretoria.

"We are being up front, we are explaining to each person their options," Zenani said.

She said victims should be warned of "some unscrupulous lawyers" who might try to enrich themselves through victims' claims.

"We are also aware of cases where individuals have sought the legal route and have received around 20% of the total amount claimed from the lawyers."

Prasa was committed to supporting victims and would "act sternly and decisively" with employees who endangered the lives of commuters.
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