What is the Road Accident Fund (“RAF”)?

  • The RAF is a fund that assists with compensating victims of a motor vehicle accident (“accident”) for certain damages suffered.
  • The RAF is governed by the Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996 (“Act”), as read with the Road Accident Fund (Transitional Provisions) Act 15 of 2012.
  • A percentage of the petrol and diesel a consumer purchases is used to finance the RAF.

What can be claimed from the RAF?

  • A person has a right to claim compensation for damages from the RAF if s/he is a victim of an accident caused by the wrongful driving of another (“negligent driver”).
  • The RAF compensates a victim of an accident for bodily injury, and in the event of death, it compensates the dependants of that victim for their loss.

What should a person do if s/he was involved in an accident?

  • Record the following:
    • date, time and place of the accident;
    • registration numbers of the motor vehicles involved in the accident;
    • full names and contact details of the negligent driver of the motor vehicle; and
    • full names and contact details of any witnesses.
  • Consult a doctor or go to the local hospital for a medical examination and report.
  • Obtain a copy of the police report/s.
  • Obtain a copy of the charge sheet from which it can clearly be determined that the victim was injured or killed as a result of the accident.
  • Keep proof of expenses.

How does a person claim from the RAF?

  • If a person (“claimant”) wants to claim from the RAF, s/he must lodge a claim on a prescribed claim form. The claim form provides basic information of the claimant; the vehicles and parties involved in the accident; the date and place of the accident; the amounts claimed; and a medical report.
  • This claim form is accompanied by an affidavit setting out the following:
    •     full details of the accident;
    •     statements of any witnesses;
    •     police reports;
    •     hospital and medical records; and
    •     documents in support of amounts claimed.
  • The drivers of the motor vehicles involved in the accident must provide details of the accident to the RAF on a prescribed accident report form.
  • Once a claim is lodged, the RAF registers it on its claims system and starts with its investigations.
  • The RAF determines:
  • whether the claim is valid, for example, was there a road accident, does it comply with the law and was it lodged in time;
  • what the merits of the case are, for example, the extent of fault, blame or negligence of the drivers of the motor vehicles and the claimant respectively; and
  • the claim amount the claimant is entitled to.
  • If a claim is incomplete, the RAF will request additional information and supporting documentation from the claimant to help assess the matter better.
  • If the claim arose after the 31 July 2008 and general damages are claimed, a Serious Injury Assessment Report must be submitted to the RAF, confirming that the injury sustained is serious in terms of the Act.

What type of damages can be claimed?

  • A person that suffers bodily injury or death may claim damages for:
    • past and future income and earning capacity;
    • past and future traveling expenses to get medical treatment;
    • medical and hospital costs;
    • the cost of employing an assistant and/or a nurse as a result of  an injury; and
    • general damages, for example, an amount for pain, suffering, inconvenience, disfigurement and loss of amenities of life.
  • Examples of damage that can be claimed as a result of death are:
    • loss of earnings and support; and
    • funeral costs.

How soon after the accident does a person need to lodge a claim with the RAF?

  • A claim must be lodged by the claimant within three years from the date of the accident or from the date on which the claim arose.
  • This does not apply to a claim by a child under the age of 18 years old. Once a child turns 18 years old, s/he has three years to lodge a claim with the RAF.
  • In a hit and run accident, a claim must be lodged by the claimant within two years from the date of the accident.

What happens with claims that arose on or after 1 August 2008?

  • On 1 August 2008, the Act was amended and some of the consequences include:
    • A claim for general damages is limited to compensation for a serious injury only, which is defined as 30% bodily impairment, serious long-term impairment, permanent disfigurement or long term mental disorder.
    • If there is a serious injury, the claimant must be assessed by a medical practitioner.
    • Any claim for loss of income or support is limited to a maximum amount that is determined from time to time.
    • A person may not sue the negligent driver for the portion of damages that the RAF does not compensate.

What happens to a claim that arose before 1 August 2008 and is still on-going?

  • Any claim is subject to the amended Act, unless the claimant chose in writing, before 12 February 2014, that the claim remains under the old Act.