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ROAD ACCIDENT FUND CLAIMS

A Road Accident Fund claim, also known as a third party or personal injury claim, is a claim which can be instituted to recover compensation on behalf of any person who suffered damage as a result of bodily injury, or death as a result of a motor vehicle collision.
Parties who can claim are:

 

  • A party who sustains serious bodily injuries in a motor vehicle accident;
  • If a breadwinner dies the dependants who were financially supported by such breadwinner are entitled to recover the same amount of support they would have received from the breadwinner during his lifespan from the Road
  • Accident Fund (certain limitations apply);
  • Where a minor is injured and has to receive medical treatment. In this case the parent would be the claimant in respect of the medical cost incurred because they are the person who had to pay for such costs and therefore has suffered damages;
  • In fatal accidents the person liable for the funeral expenses will be able to institute a claim to recover these expenses.

 

What is the Road Accident Fund?

 

The Road Accident Fund is a statutory body established by law to administer the system of compensation for damages suffered due to bodily injury or death caused by the negligent driving of a motor vehicle.

 

How is the Road Accident Fund Financed?

 

The Road Accident Fund is financed by a levy on all fuel consumed. The proceeds of this levy are paid into the Road Accident Fund.

 

Who may claim against the Road Accident Fund?

 

  • Any person, who has suffered damage as a result of bodily injuries to him or herself or to the death or bodily injury of someone else, may claim compensation provided the following can be established.
  • That their damages were caused by the driving of a motor vehicle;
  • That such motor vehicle was negligently driven;
  • That the bodily injury or death resulted from a motor vehicle collision;
  • The accident occurred within the borders of South Africa.
  • Examples of people who may claim are:
  • Pedestrian negligently knocked down by a motorist.
  • Passenger in a motor vehicle negligently driven.
  • Passenger or driver in a motor vehicle struck by another vehicle which was negligently driven.

 

Note:

Unidentified claims in which neither the owner or driver can be identified can still be instituted against the Road Accident Fund subject to certain restrictions.
A person who is solely responsible for their own injury does not have a claim; however a person whose injuries were caused partly by his own fault and partly by the fault of another motorist is entitled to compensation. (Although it will be reduced in terms of the Act on Apportionment of Damages).

 

Who may submit your claim?

 

In terms of the Road Accident Fund, third-party claims may only be submitted by the claimant themselves or their attorneys. If a claim is submitted by anyone else the Road Accident Fund is entitled to refuse to pay any compensation.

Road Accident Fund claims are a complex field of law and to ensure you recover everything you are entitled to we recommend that your matter be dealt with by a specialist personal injury law firm such as ours.

 

Prescription of a claim

 

The claim must be lodged with the Road Accident Fund within three years of the date upon which the collision occurred. Summons must be served within five years of the collision occurring.
Should the above time – limits not be complied with the claimant’s claim will prescribe and he will lose his right to claim compensation. (Certain exceptions are applicable)
The prescription period of a minor’s claim will only start running once he turns 18 years old.
In the case of an unidentified vehicle claim, this must be lodged with the Road Accident Fund within two years of the date upon which the claim arose to avoid prescription of the claim.

 

*It is imperative that you make contact with our offices as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of your claim prescribing.
How long does a claim take?

 

The duration of such claims varies with each case depending on the severity of the injuries and the complexity of the merits. Certain time periods are applicable in terms of the Road Accident Fund Act and must be kept in mind during the process.

In order for a claimant to claim general damages a RAF 4 Form must be completed wherein a serious injury assessment must be done. This report may only be completed once, what is referred to as M.M.I (Maximal Medical Improvement) has been reached. M.M.I is only reached once the medical practitioner believes that the patient has reached the stage that there will be no significant improvement for the next 12 months. This by itself can cause delays.

The quantifying of a claim by means of medico-legal reports and examinations takes a time but will definitely be worth the wait as your claim will then be properly quantified by experts and specialists to ensure that you get the compensation your deserve.

It is further our experience that it is extremely rare for a fair settlement offer to be made by the Road Accident Fund without proceeding on litigation. We will guide you through the whole process and assist with all the different aspects of the claim.

 

The cost of instituting the claim

 

In light of the fact that significant disbursements are incurred during the course of the claim which include amongst others, paying for medical specialists, advocates fees, CT scans as well as the major risk our firm undertakes on your behalf ,our firm would normally enter into a contingency fee agreement (a no win no fee agreement). According to this agreement our fees are limited to a percentage of the payment received from the Road Accident Fund.

Should we be satisfied with the merit of the clients claim, our firm will enter into a contingency agreement and cover disbursements on behalf of the client and recover these costs once the claim has been finalised.

Take note that the below procedure may vary depending on the circumstances of each case. The different steps will be explained to you extensively during the course of your claim.

 

  • Contact our offices to schedule a consultation;
  • Sign and provide our offices with the documentation and information as requested by our offices during consultation;
  • A follow – up consultation/telephonic consultation may be scheduled based on the documents we received;
  • RAF 4 examination if necessary;
  • If we have received all the requested documentation we will proceed with lodgement of the claim;
  • We must wait 120 days for the Road Accident Fund to consider your claim.
  • (If we do not receive a reasonable offer within this time we proceed with litigation. Litigation is a time consuming process which can take up to 2 years. )
  • Summons will be issued against the Road Accident Fund and litigation will follow;
  • Depending on the severity of your injuries you will be sent to certain doctors for medical legal examinations in order to quantify your claim;
  • Application and preparation for trial;
  • Trial or settlement.
The lodgement of a claim

 

  • A claim in respect of an identified motor vehicle must be lodged within three years of the date upon which the collision occurred;
  • A claim in respect of an unidentified motor vehicle must be lodged within two years of the date upon which the collision occurred.

 

The following documents are required to lodge a claim:

 

  • RAF 1 Form (completed by the doctor who treated you after the accident/the superintendent from the hospital you were admitted to;
  • Copy of claimant’s Identity Document;
  • Unabridged birth certificate where the claimant is a minor;
  • Copy of claimant’s Driver’s Licence (if claimant was the driver);
  • Affidavit by the claimant;
  • Special Power of attorney;
  • All hospital records and clinical notes in respect of the treatment received for the injuries sustained in the accident;
  • RAF 4 Form ( general damage claims only);
  • All statements and vouchers relating to the medical expenses incurred;
  • Copy of the accident report.

Once we have received all these documents the claim will be lodged at the branch office of the Road Accident Fund closest to where the accident occurred or the claimant resides.

 

Once the claim is lodged the Road Accident Fund had 120 days to consider the claim during which no court process may be served on them.

 

After the 120 period has lapsed we can proceed with summons herein.

What types of damages may be claimed?

 

The third party/claimant may only claim damages which arose from bodily injury or death.

 

The following heads of damages are applicable in cases where the damages arose from bodily injuries:

 

Past Medical Expenses

 

This includes all medical treatment, medication, hospital expenses which were incurred as a result of the accident from the date of accident to date of settlement of the claim.

If your expenses were covered by your Medical Aid you are obliged to claim these expenses on their behalf. Once these expenses are recovered from the Road Accident Fund payment should be made to your Medical Aid.

If you paid for these expenses yourself you are entitled to payment.

Please retain all doctors, hospital and pharmacy accounts as we require these vouchers to proof that the expenses were incurred.

 

Future Medical Expenses

 

This includes the cost of future medical treatment, hospitalization, medication related to the injuries sustained in the accident as well as the cost of employing domestic servants, nurses or assistants as a result of the injury sustained.

In terms of Section 17 of the Road Accident Fund Act an undertaking will be issued in this regard. This is a certificate awarded to a claimant in terms of which he can claim future medical expenses back from the Road Accident Fund after such expense has been incurred.

 

Future Medical Expenses

 

This includes the cost of future medical treatment, hospitalization, medication related to the injuries sustained in the accident as well as the cost of employing domestic servants, nurses or assistants as a result of the injury sustained.

In terms of Section 17 of the Road Accident Fund Act an undertaking will be issued in this regard. This is a certificate awarded to a claimant in terms of which he can claim future medical expenses back from the Road Accident Fund after such expense has been incurred.

 

General damages

 

After the Road Accident Fund Amendment Act came into operation (1 August
2008) a claimant will only be entitled to claim general damages if he/she is
seriously injured.

General damages or non –pecuniary damages is a lump sum amount awarded to a claimant for pain and suffering, inconvenience, and loss of the amenities of life.

The claimant will be sent for a RAF 4 serious injury assessment in order to
determine if he/she qualifies for general damages.

 

A person is seriously injured if:

 

  • That person has suffered a 30% whole body impairment; or
  • That person has sustained serious long term impairment or loss of a bodily function; or
  • Permanent serious disfigurement;
  • Severe long term mental or behavioural disturbance or disorder;
  • Loss of foetus.

 

Past loss of earnings

 

This will include the amount of salary/earnings you did not receive / was not compensated for as a result of the accident.

 

Future loss of earnings

 

This portion of damages is calculated by an actuary based on medical – legal reports. This amount includes the future loss of earnings you may suffer as a result of your injuries. In this category we look at your vulnerability in the open labour market or the fact that you are unable to work as a result of the injuries you sustained. The possibility of your early retirement is also taken into account.

 

The following heads of damages are applicable in cases where the damages arose from death:

 

Loss of maintenance or support as a result of the death of the breadwinner;
Funeral costs (limited).

 

Note: Damage to property for example to a vehicle and clothing cannot be claimed from the Road Accident Fund and has to be claimed directly from the wrongdoer.

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