Road Accident Fund Claims

What is the Road Accident Fund (“RAF”)?

·         The RAF is a fund that assists with compensating victims of a motor vehicle accident (“accident”) for certain damages suffered.

·         The RAF is governed by the Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996 (“Act”), as read with the Road Accident Fund (Transitional Provisions) Act 15 of 2012.

·         A percentage of the petrol and diesel a consumer purchases is used to finance the RAF.

What can be claimed from the RAF?

·         A person has a right to claim compensation for damages from the RAF if s/he is a victim of an accident caused by the wrongful driving of another (“negligent driver”).

·         The RAF compensates a victim of an accident for bodily injury, and in the event of death, it compensates the dependants of that victim for their loss.

What should a person do if s/he was involved in an accident?

·         Record the following:

o    date, time and place of the accident;

o    registration numbers of the motor vehicles involved in the accident;

o    full names and contact details of the negligent driver of the motor vehicle; and

o    full names and contact details of any witnesses.

·         Consult a doctor or go to the local hospital for a medical examination and report.

·         Obtain a copy of the police report/s.

·         Obtain a copy of the charge sheet from which it can clearly be determined that the victim was injured or killed as a result of the accident.

·         Keep proof of expenses.

How does a person claim from the RAF?

·         If a person (“claimant”) wants to claim from the RAF, s/he must lodge a claim on a prescribed claim form. The claim form provides basic information of the claimant; the vehicles and parties involved in the accident; the date and place of the accident; the amounts claimed; and a medical report.

·         This claim form is accompanied by an affidavit setting out the following:

o        full details of the accident;

o        statements of any witnesses;

o        police reports;

o        hospital and medical records; and

o        documents in support of amounts claimed.

·         The drivers of the motor vehicles involved in the accident must provide details of the accident to the RAF on a prescribed accident report form.

·         Once a claim is lodged, the RAF registers it on its claims system and starts with its investigations.

·         The RAF determines:

·         whether the claim is valid, for example, was there a road accident, does it comply with the law and was it lodged in time;

·         what the merits of the case are, for example, the extent of fault, blame or negligence of the drivers of the motor vehicles and the claimant respectively; and

·         the claim amount the claimant is entitled to.

·         If a claim is incomplete, the RAF will request additional information and supporting documentation from the claimant to help assess the matter better.

·         If the claim arose after the 31 July 2008 and general damages are claimed, a Serious Injury Assessment Report must be submitted to the RAF, confirming that the injury sustained is serious in terms of the Act.

What type of damages can be claimed?

·         A person that suffers bodily injury or death may claim damages for:

o    past and future income and earning capacity;

o    past and future traveling expenses to get medical treatment;

o    medical and hospital costs;

o    the cost of employing an assistant and/or a nurse as a result of  an injury; and

o    general damages, for example, an amount for pain, suffering, inconvenience, disfigurement and loss of amenities of life.

·         Examples of damage that can be claimed as a result of death are:

o    loss of earnings and support; and

o    funeral costs.

How soon after the accident does a person need to lodge a claim with the RAF?

·         A claim must be lodged by the claimant within three years from the date of the accident or from the date on which the claim arose.

·         This does not apply to a claim by a child under the age of 18 years old. Once a child turns 18 years old, s/he has three years to lodge a claim with the RAF.

·         In a hit and run accident, a claim must be lodged by the claimant within two years from the date of the accident.

What happens with claims that arose on or after 1 August 2008?

·         On 1 August 2008, the Act was amended and some of the consequences include:

o    A claim for general damages is limited to compensation for a serious injury only, which is defined as 30% bodily impairment, serious long-term impairment, permanent disfigurement or long term mental disorder.

o    If there is a serious injury, the claimant must be assessed by a medical practitioner.

o    Any claim for loss of income or support is limited to a maximum amount that is determined from time to time.

o    A person may not sue the negligent driver for the portion of damages that the RAF does not compensate.

What happens to a claim that arose before 1 August 2008 and is still on-going?

·         Any claim is subject to the amended Act, unless the claimant chose in writing, before 12 February 2014, that the claim remains under the old Act.



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