Who can claim from the RAF?
Any driver, passenger, pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist involved in an accident can claim from the RAF – except where the injured person is 100% to blame for the accident.
In addition, a dependent of a deceased person may make a claim – except where the deceased person is 100% to blame for the accident.
Both South African citizens and foreigners are covered by the fund.
In the future the new Road Accident Benefit Scheme will change the RAF from a fault system to a no-fault basis, similar to other social-security funds in SA. This simply means that even if you were at fault or partly at fault you can claim compensation.
Who cannot claim from the RAF?
- The driver or the owner of the vehicle who was 100% responsible for the accident
- The driver or the owner of the vehicle where they were the only person involved in the accident. For example, you crashed into a wall or other obstacle and injured yourself, and nothing else contributed to the accident.
- A dependent or family member of a deceased person who was 100% responsible for the accident
It sounds so easy doesn’t it, I am sorry to say it is more complicated than proving you were not at fault. The real strength of your case and payout is based on the evidence you submit so that the RAF can assess what remuneration to pay you out.
How easy is it really to submit a claim to the RAF?
While the RAF does pay millions out each month, many claims are rejected due to a lack of evidence or contradictory evidence provided when submitting a claim. And while the RAF encourages people to make claims directly without a lawyer, we suggest you seriously weigh up the pros and cons of doing it on your own versus working with an attorney.
Time limits on RAF claims
You must submit a claim within three years of the motor vehicle accident if you know who was responsible.
You must submit a claim within two years of the accident if you do not know who the responsible driver was, such as a hit-and-run accident.
Death of an accident victim
If you are the dependent of the deceased and you are 18 years old, claims must be submitted to the RAF within three years of the date of the accident or the date of death.
A minor cannot claim compensation for loss of support until they are 18 years old; at which time they have three years to submit a claim.
In all loss of support claims arising from hit-and-run accidents, claims must be filed within two years of the date of the accident.
Is hiring an attorney necessary?
You do not have to use an attorney to make a claim to the RAF, the Fund employs Information officers at all branch offices of the Road Accident Fund to assist claimants free of charge. However, it is recommended to contact an attorney if your case is complicated, especially until the new RABS is passed into law.
If you do not have access to funds to get the advice of an attorney, there are various free legal aid services you could approach, but you will have to show that your income is below a certain level.
Free legal aid organisations include:
- Legal-Aid South Africa, an organisation that gets its mandate from the South African constitution
- Legal aid Non-Governmental Agencies (NGO’s) such as Pro Bono
- Pro bono (free) legal services by attorneys; administered by the Legal Practice Council
- Law clinics based at Universities provide free legal services such as;
We recommend that you carefully weigh up the cost of getting legal advice vs having your claim rejected, prior to lodging the claim with the RAF. Especially if your case is more complicated, getting legal advice may have a greater chance of success.
If your claim is rejected, you can challenge the decision by suing the RAF: many lawyers will consider instituting a lawsuit on your behalf on a contingency basis, what this means is you only pay them if you get a payout. You would need to agree with your lawyer whether an additional fee becomes payable or the % of money that is paid out in the lawsuit.
How does the RAF determine the value of a payout?
When determining the value of the amount to be paid to an accident victim, the RAF looks at a number of factors such as:
- If you were involved as a driver, to what extent were you responsible for causing the road accident
- The nature and severity of your injuries, and their likely consequences in the short and long term, as determined by medical experts
- Current and likely future medical costs associated with your injuries
- The extent of loss of income or support as a direct result of injuries sustained in a road accident.
Note that the RAF pays road accident victims general damages for pain and suffering only in cases of serious injuries.
What can you claim for?
If you were injured, you can claim compensation for the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future loss of earnings or support which is limited to a maximum amount of R160 000 adjusted quarterly for inflation since 2008, regardless of the actual loss incurred.
- General damages for pain, suffering and disfigurement in the case of bodily injury provided the victim suffered a serious injury only.
Note that the General damages category will change depending on when the 2019 draft Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill comes into effect.
In the case of a death:
- A child, spouse or another person dependent on the income of a person killed in an accident may claim from the RAF for loss of support
- A close relative of the deceased who paid for the deceased’s funeral may claim for funeral expenses limited to the cost of cremation or burial only
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