Who can claim from the Road Accident Fund?

Anyone who has been injured in an accident on South African roads can claim compensation from the Road Accident Fund. It does not matter if they were the driver, passenger, pedestrian, cyclist or motor cyclist. The only thing that matters is that they weren’t entirely responsible for the accident themselves.

Even if you were partly responsible for the accident, you can still claim for the other driver’s share of the responsibility. And if you were the passenger in a car accident, you will, in most situations be able to have a full claim.

If the accident victim dies as a result of the accident, their dependents can claim for loss of support if the deceased owes them a duty of support and in fact supported them during his lifetime.

WHAT can I claim for?

You can claim from the Road Accident Fund for damages that arise from bodily injury caused by the accident. There are 2 main categories of damages for which you can claim:

1. Special damages

Claims for special damages include claims for any medical expenses, loss of earnings and funeral costs. Medical expenses If you are involved in a road accident, you are able to claim from the Road Accident Fund for any past or future medical expenses that you incur or may incur. Claiming for past medical expenses is a relatively straightforward matter – you need to keep track of all your medical expenses since the accident and submit these when you make your claim. Claiming for future medical expenses is a more difficult matter. It’s not easy to know what medical costs you might incur in the rest of your life. You may need physiotherapy every week or a full-time nurse or assistant to help you. You may need to make modifications to your house so that you can get upstairs. You may need a driver to get you around. That’s why it’s important to use the services of an experienced firm of specialist personal injury lawyers like Davidson England to ensure your claim is as comprehensive as possible. Loss of Earnings If you are unable to work, or if your ability to work is seriously impaired by the accident you can claim from the Road Accident Fund for loss of earnings. And if you are the dependent of someone who dies in a road accident, you can claim for loss of support.
Funeral costs The costs of cremating or burying a loved one will also be covered by the RAF where someone has died in a road accident.

2. General damages

General damages are more commonly known as compensation for pain and suffering. You can only claim for general damages if you have suffered a serious injury. This is defined as an injury which impairs 30% of your “whole person”. However, even if you have suffered less than 30% impairment, you will still be able to claim for general damages if the accident results in a permanent serious disfigurement, mental impairment or the loss of a bodily function or unborn baby. To claim for general damages you will need to be assessed by a doctor and a specific form (RAF4) submitted.

WHY can I claim?

The Road Accident Fund was set up by Parliament by the Road Accident Fund Act of 1996 to insure drivers, pedestrians and passengers from injuries suffered at the hands of another driver. A few cents of every litre of petrol or diesel sold is put towards a special insurance policy that insures everyone who uses our roads against injuries caused by other drivers. This means that even if the car, bus or taxi that caused the accident is not insured, you can still be compensated for any bodily damages that you incur.

WHEN can I claim from the Road Accident Fund?

There are 3 conditions that need to be met for you to claim from the Road Accident Fund:

1. You have been injured in a road accident
You can only claim if you have suffered a personal injury in a road accident that requires medical treatment.
2. You were not entirely to blame for the accident
Even if you were partly to blame for the accident, you can still claim from the Road Accident Fund. The courts will determine to what extent you were to blame and allocate the damages accordingly. If you are 50% to blame, then you will still be entitled to 50% of the damages.
3. The accident happened in the last 3 years
There is a time limit on road accident claims. You have to claim from the Road Accident Fund within three years of the accident if you know who caused the accident. If it was a hit and run accident and you didn’t immediately know who caused the road accident, then you only have two years to claim. Minor children and brain injured paties are not bound to these prescriptive time limits.

WHEN can I expect to be paid out?

Road Accident Fund claims can take years to be resolved.

WHERE can I claim?

The Road Accident Fund encourages claimants not to use an attorney, this is extremely risky and you will end up with a settlement that does not compensate you for all your damages. Accident claims are a long, technical and difficult legal process and it can prove very expensive to get all the expert opinions you need but without these your claim cannot be correctly quantified. That’s why we recommend using a specialist road accident claims attorney like Davidson England.

HOW do I claim?

There is a very specific procedure for claiming from the Road Accident Fund. A special form (Form RAF 1) must be completed with details of your basic information, the vehicles and parties involved, the place and date of the accident and the amount you are claiming. The RAF1 form must also have a doctor’s medical report and be accompanied by an affidavit with police reports, witness statements, medical reports and all the other evidence required to support your claim. Only once the full claim is submitted will the RAF register the claim and start its investigations. They will check that there actually was an accident, that the claim was submitted on time, and the merits of the case. They will also determine the amount of the damages suffered. If the forms submitted do not have enough information, they will ask for additional documentation.

HOW much can I expect?

There are 3 parts to calculating the value of your settlement from the Road Accident Fund. Firstly, there is a payment for your medical expenses. Secondly, you can claim for the loss of future earnings. Thirdly, there is a payment for damages for pain and suffering. Before 2008, claimants received settlements for all types of injuries including minor injuries. However, a change to the law means that damages for pain and suffering (General Damages) will now only be paid for “serious injuries”. While each case has its own specific factors, there is a guideline for settlement payments based on previous cases similar to yours. Your payout will depend on several factors – how severe your injury is, the impact it’s had on your life, the treatment that you will need in future… A whiplash injury may merit a payout of R100 000 for General Damages, while a broken leg could result in a claim of R400 000 and a serious brain injury as much as R2 000 000. These amounts are for General Damages only and not past medical & hospital expenses or past and future loss of income. Click here to see what payments have recently been made by the Road Accident Fund in South Africa. Often, the Road Accident Fund will make an offer directly to claimants in the hope of an early settlement. While these offers can often seem very attractive, they may also be a small percentage of what could reasonably be expected if the claim proceeds. That’s why it’s important to retain the services of an experienced road accident claims attorney who can advise you on whether or not the offer is reasonable.

HOW much will it cost to claim?

Using a specialist road accident attorney like Davidson England will cost you absolutely nothing upfront. We will act for you on a no win, no fee basis. We get paid a percentage of your payout only if we are successful with your claim. If we don’t win, we don’t get paid. What’s more, we will also take care of all the costs of your claim. This includes disbursements to medical specialists and other experts whose evidence is needed to support your claim. Of course, if you wish to pay legal fees on an hourly basis, this is also possible. In this case you will also have to have pay the costs of the disbursements for your case. To find out more about the Road Accident Fund you can also visit their website.

Contact us today to find out if you have a claim. No win, no fee.