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Road Accident Fund – when, how and what?

February 2018

#roadrules #roadaccidentfund #accidents #2018

Philip Swanepoel (BA Law, LLB, LLM)

Road accidents are unfortunately a reality for most South African road users and will often only result in damage to your property (i.e. motor vehicle). However, accidents can also lead to severe bodily injuries which could have a major negative impact on your way of life or even death which might leave those who are dependent on you in a dire situation. Those using South African roads, including foreigners, are fortunately not without recourse in such situations and can potentially claim damages from the Road Accident Fund (hereafter the "RAF"). This article aims to provide some basic information regarding what the RAF is and when one can potentially claim from it.

The RAF is a creature of statute since its existence and operation is entirely regulated by legislation. The relevant legislation is the Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996 as amended by the Road Accident Amendment Act 19 of 2005. Section 3 of the 1996 Act states that the object of the RAF is the "payment of compensation… for loss or damage wrongfully caused by the driving of motor vehicles." The RAF is mainly funded by a compulsory fuel levy which is levied on all petrol and diesel sold in South Africa (this levy currently stands at 163 cents per litre). The RAF offers two types of coverage, namely personal accident insurance to victims and their families and also indemnity cover to those who caused an accident. Note that victims of road accidents include drivers, passengers and pedestrians. The RAF provides compensation for medical expenses incurred because of an accident, loss of income due to an accident, funeral expenses if an accident resulted in the death of a person, loss of support for those whom are dependent on someone who died in an accident, and general damages for pain and suffering in the case of serious injury.

The are two requirements which needs to be met for one to have a potential claim against the RAF. A person must have been injured in a road accident and, secondly, the accident must have occurred due to someone else's fault. Potential claimants have either two or three years to lodge the claim with the RAF (two years if you do not know who the other party to the accident was and three if you do know who the other party was). Claimants do not need a lawyer to lodge the claim and can do it themselves by simply filling in the necessary forms (click here to get the necessary forms - https://www.raf.co.za/Claims/Pages/How-To-Claim.aspx). The form should be accompanied by an affidavit setting out the details of the accident, any police reports, medical records, and any vouchers or documents which support the claimed amount. The RAF will investigate the claim after all of the relevant documents have been submitted in order to establish if the claim is legitimate. The RAF has a period of 120 days to complete this process during which you may not launch any procedural steps against it.

It is important to note that claiming from the RAF is often a long and dragged out process due to their heavy case load and the complex nature of road accidents. This process is often further delayed by disputes between claimants and the RAF regarding the legitimate quantum of claims. It is thus advisable to approach a competent attorney in order to assist you and to make sure that you get the maximum amount of money as quickly as possible from the RAF.




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