What is the Road Accident Fund?
Many road accidents cause serious injuries or death.
Road accident fund provides compulsory coverage for road users. Victims may also file a claim for compensation. This coverage covers all people who cause an accident, including victims and their dependents.
The RAF is in financial trouble and claims for hundreds, if not paid, are still being denied. This is despite annual increases in fuel levies by the Finance Minister. South African road users must pay a fuel levy of R2 per gallon (2018/2019) to support the fund. Parliament is also considering the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill. This bill aims to replace RAF.
Who is eligible to claim the Road Accident Fund, (RAF)?
To make the RAF more sustainable, financial pressures forced the amendment to the Road Accident Fund Act 56 (1996). New regulations limit who can claim, for what, and how much.
The RAF covers claims made by drivers, passengers, pedestrian motor vehicle accident victims, as well as for their insurance company. The driver of the car may file a claim if another driver caused the accident or the driver of the vehicle is not identifiable.
Other eligible for benefits include:
- The dependents of a victim who has passed away
- A parent or legal guardian of a minor child. An adult must assist a child under 18 years of age.
What are the benefits of the Road Accident Fund (RAF)?
After determining whether they are eligible for compensation from the RAF, there are guidelines you can follow to help determine what type and amount of compensation a person may claim.
- General DamagesAccidents may cause suffering, pain, and even loss of all your amenities.
- Hospital and medical expenses: The future medical costs and expenses will be determined by the medical practitioner.
- Earnings loss: Past and future income lost due to injuries that make it difficult to work. This Claim is limited to R191 773 per annum.
- Funeral costs
- Financial support has been lostDependents can file a claim to receive financial assistance from a deceased breadwinner. A breadwinner can only file this claim once per year. It is limited to R191-773.
The RAF cannot accept liability for vehicle damages. You cannot file a claim against another driver, or from your insurance.
What injuries are admissible for claims?
All injuries are not covered by the RAF. Only serious injuries are eligible. To determine the severity of an injury, a medical professional must assess the claimant.
For more information
- Permanent impairment of a whole-person system or function to the point where it permanently affects an individual. A serious injury is one that results in 30% or more impairment of the entire body.
- Permanent DisabilityPermanent impairment of bodily function or loss; permanent severe disfigurement; severe mental and long-term behavior disorder or disorder; or the death of a fetus.
How long must a claim be filed before it can be considered?
For claims, the RAF has strict deadlines
- Information about other drivers/vehicles is known. The Road accident fund must receive the name and address of any other driver or owner of a vehicle. Within three years of the accident.
- Information about other drivers/vehicles is not known: If the owner or driver is not known, a claim must be filed. Within two years of the accident.
- Minors under 18 years of age are eligible to file a claim. A minor who has been the victim of a road accident can file a claim after they turn 18. You can file a claim after your 18th birthday if you have a 3-year period.
- The Court of Legal Claims: Summons are only to be served at the High Court within five years of the accident.
How to file a claim at the RAF
The RAF has made the claim process easier over the years, but it can still take many years and be slow.
Step 1: Gather all documentation and evidence that will support your Claim.
- Claim forms for the RAF
- Police report, sketch plan and case number
- Personal information
- Information about the other victims
- Copies of hospital records and other medical documents related to injuries
- Documentation to support medical expenses
- Evidence of earnings or income loss (e.g. Salary slips)
- Motivational speeches by medical and legal experts
- There is evidence of damage to nearby structures or vehicles.
- Witness Statements
- Proof of marriage is required if a spouse files for divorce.
Step 2: Complete and submit the required RAF Claim Forms.
- Visit the RAF website to download the required claim forms. You will need to complete RAF1 for the prescribed Claims forms. It includes basic information about the claimant and vehicles involved, as well as details of the amount and the date.
- All drivers involved in an accident must complete the Accident Report Form RAF3.
- If you are submitting a claim for general damage, a Serious Injuries Assessment Report RAF4 is required to confirm the severity of injuries.
- Email claims are not accepted. Hard copies must be sent to the RAF. The documents can be faxed, but the originals must be sent.
- It is crucial to ensure that all forms are completed correctly and to keep a duplicate of any documents sent by the RAF.
- The RAF will contact the person if any documents are not accessible. To avoid any delays, however, it is important to give all details.
STEP 3: The RAF investigates a Claim
- The RAF will then register a claim and investigate the matter after receiving all supporting documents and forms. This can be done in 120 days.
- The RAF may request additional information from claimants or require documents. They may also ask them to visit a doctor to assess the extent of injuries sustained during an accident.
- The RAF will determine whether the Claim is valid. The RAF will assess the damage and make a settlement offer.
Step 4: Serving Summons, and Going to Court
- If a settlement offer is not made within 120 calendar days, the case can be taken to court. The RAF must make a settlement proposal or explain to court why it is not liable for damages.
- While a lawyer is not necessary at this stage, it’s a smart idea to get legal help. High Court proceedings can be complicated and experts witnesses, such as medical experts, will be required to testify.
- To settle your Claim outside court, you can still reach an agreement with the RAF. If a settlement is not possible the Claim will go to trial and the court will determine the final terms.
Do you have a RAF claimant and need a lawyer?
The RAF encourages individuals to file claims on their own without the help of an attorney. The Road Accident Fund doesn’t require claimants to hire legal representation. Legal fees can be expensive. It can be more costly and take longer.
Claims can be complex and RAF representatives might not be well-versed in medical or legal issues. The RAF may not always be able to keep the ball moving. Many claimants lost their right to compensation after their claims were rejected or prescribed by RAF.
The RAF faces financial difficulties. The RAF could accept a settlement offer or deny a claim. An attorney can ensure justice is served and fair compensation is received.
Many personal injury attorneys will help with RAF cases on a contingency basis. The attorney will assess the case and accept it if it has a reasonable chance of succeeding. Legal costs will not be covered if the Claim is denied. As payment, the lawyer will receive 25% of the compensation amount.