What is the Road Accident Fund?
Many road accidents result in fatalities or serious injuries.
The Road Accident Fund offers compulsory coverage to road users. Victims can also file a compensation claim. This coverage extends to all persons who cause an accident (in the form of indemnity insurance), as well as victims and their dependents.
The RAF is currently in financial trouble, and claims for hundreds of thousands are not being paid. Despite annual increases in fuel levies from the Finance Minister, this is still a problem. To support the fund, South African road users have to pay an annual fuel levy of R2 per liter (2018/2019). The Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill, which aims to replace RAF, is also being considered by Parliament.
Who can claim the Road Accident Fund
Financial pressures forced the amendment of the Road Accident Fund Act 56 (1996) to the law that governs the RAF to make it more sustainable. New regulations restrict who can claim, what they can claim for, and how much.
The RAF will cover claims for drivers, passengers, and pedestrian motor vehicle accident victims. If another driver caused the accident, or if the vehicle’s driver is not identified, the driver of the car can file a claim.
Others who are eligible to claim include:
- Dependents of a victim who has died
- A parent or legal guardian for a minor child. (A child younger than 18 years old must be assisted by an adult).
What can you claim from the Road Accident Fund (RAF), exactly?
There are guidelines that can be followed to determine what type of compensation a person can claim after deciding whether they are eligible to claim from the RAF.
- General DamagesAccidents can cause pain, suffering, and loss of all amenities of life.
- Hospital and medical expenses: The medical practitioner will determine future medical costs and medical expenses.
- Loss of earnings: For past and future income loss due to injuries that render it impossible to work. This type of Claim can be limited to R191 773 per year.
- Funeral costs:
- Financial support is lostDependents may file a claim for financial care lost by a deceased breadwinner. This Claim can only be made once per year by a breadwinner and is limited to R191 773.
Please note that Vehicle damages cannot be claimed from the RAF. A claim must be made against another driver or from insurance.
What injuries are eligible for claims?
The RAF will not cover all injuries. Only serious injuries are eligible. A medical professional must evaluate a claimant to determine the “seriousness of an injury.”
- Whole-person ImpairmentPermanent impairment of any part, system, or function of the body to the point that it permanently impairs someone as an individual. A “serious injury” is one that causes 30% or more impairment to the whole body.
- Permanent DisabilityPermanent impairment or loss in bodily function; permanent severe disfigurement; severe mental or long-term behavioral disorder or disorder; or the loss of a fetus.
What time must a claim be filed?
The RAF has strict deadlines for claims.
- Details about other drivers/vehicles are known: If the name of the other driver, or the owner of a vehicle, must be provided to the RAF. Within three years after the accident.
- Details about other drivers/vehicles not known: A claim must be filed if the owner or driver of the vehicle is not known. Within two years after the accident.
- The victim is a minor (under 18 years old): A minor who is the victim of a road crash can file a claim once they turn 18. They must have:3-year period in which you can do it after their 18 th birthday.
- The Court of Legal Claims: Summons must only be served at the High court within 5 years after the accident.
How to file a claim with the RAF.
Although the RAF has simplified the claim process over time, it can still be slow and take many years to complete.
Step 1: Gather all relevant documentation and evidence necessary to support your Claim.
- RAF Claim forms
- Police report, sketch plan, and case number
- Personal information
- Information about other victims of the accident
- Copy of hospital records and medical documents related to injuries
- Documentation proving medical expenses
- Evidence of earnings and income loss (e.g., Salary slips
- Motivational statements by legal and medical experts
- Evidence of damage to vehicles or nearby structures.
- Witness Statements
- If spouse claims, proof of marriage
Step 2: Fill out and submit the required RAF Claim forms.
- To download the necessary claim forms, visit the RAF website. The prescribed Claims form claimants must complete RAF1. It contains basic information about the claimant, vehicles, and drivers involved, the date and location of the accident, and amounts.
- An Accident Report Form RAF3 must be completed by all drivers involved in an accident.
- To confirm the seriousness of injuries, a Serious Injuries Assessment Report RAF4 must be submitted if a claim for general damages is being made.
- Unfortunately, claims cannot be submitted by email. The RAF must receive hard copies. You can fax the documents, but you must send the originals.
- It is important to make sure that all forms are correctly filled out and to keep a copy of any documents sent to the RAF.
- If any documents are not available, the RAF will contact you. However, it is best to provide all information to avoid delays.
STEP 3: The RAF investigates the Claim
- After receiving the supporting documents and forms, the RAF will register a claim and conduct investigations. It has 120 days to do this.
- The RAF might require additional information or documents from claimants and may ask them to see a doctor of their choosing evaluate the extent of injuries sustained in an accident.
- The RAF will decide whether or not the Claim is valid. The RAF will determine the damages and possibly present a settlement offer.
Step 4: Serving Summons and Going to Court
- The case can be brought to court if a settlement proposal is not made within 120 days. The RAF must either make a settlement offer or explain to the court why it’s not liable for any damages.
- Although a lawyer is not required at this stage, it is smart to seek legal assistance. The High Court’s process can be complex and expert witnesses (such as medical experts) will be needed to testify.
- You can still negotiate with the RAF to settle your claim outside of court. If a settlement is not possible, the Claim will be taken to trial, and the court will decide the final terms.
Are you an RAF claimant who needs a lawyer?
The RAF encourages people to file claims without the assistance of an attorney. The RAF does not require claimants to have legal representation. However, legal fees can indeed be costly. However, it can also be more expensive and take longer.
Claims can be complicated, and RAF representatives may not always be knowledgeable about medical issues or the law. The RAF doesn’t always keep the ball rolling. Many claimants have lost their right to compensation because their claims were invalidated or prescribed by the RAF.
The RAF is facing financial difficulties. It could offer a low settlement amount or reject a claim. An attorney can help ensure fair compensation and justice are served.
Many personal injury lawyers will assist in RAF cases on a contingent basis. This means that the attorney will evaluate the case and only accept whether it has a reasonable chance to succeed. If the Claim is unsuccessful, legal costs will not be paid. The lawyer will only receive 25% of the amount of compensation as payment.