December 1, 2019

RAF claims when there was no other vehicle involved.

The Road Accident Fund  v Abrahams 

Facts of the case:

> The Respondent, Mogamat Ridaa Abrahams (“Abrahams”), was involved in a motor vehicle accident (“accident”) where the tyre of the vehicle burst while he was driving. He sustained certain bodily injuries and suffered damages, such as for medical expenses and pain and suffering.

> Abrahams was not the owner of the vehicle and in his claim against the Road Accident Fund (“RAF”), he alleged that the owner of the vehicle failed to properly maintain the vehicle. This failure by the owner of the vehicle caused the accident.

> The Appellant, the RAF, argued that they are not liable for Abrahams' claim as the accident was caused by his own negligence and that it was a single vehicle accident. Therefore, Abrahams cannot be considered to be a “third party”. 

> RAF further argued that the accident was not caused by the “driving” of the vehicle, but from a worn tyre that burst (vehicle not being roadworthy). 

What the court said:

> The Supreme Court of Appeal (“SCA”) had to consider the provisions of section 17 of the Road Accident Fund Act (“Act”) which provides the following:

- the RAF must compensate any person who has suffered damages as a result of a bodily injury that was caused from the driving of a vehicle by any person; and

- the injury must be due to the negligence or wrongful act of the driver or the owner of the vehicle.

> In deciding whether a person was entitled to claim for damages in a single vehicle accident, the SCA confirmed that the facts of this matter is different than the general claims against the RAF where two vehicles are usually involved. 

> A “third party” under the Act is defined as “any person” and this is wide enough to include a driver involved in a single vehicle accident if the accident was caused by the negligence or wrongfulness of the owner.

> The SCA further considered whether Abrahams's injuries were caused by or arose from the “driving” of a motor vehicle.  

> The RAF's argument that the accident was not caused by the driving of the vehicle could not succeed. The SCA held that, at the time of the accident, the vehicle was driven by Abrahams when the tyre burst. This means that there is a sufficient connection between the injuries suffered and the driving of the vehicle. 

Conclusion:

> In light of the above, the SCA held that a person involved in a single vehicle accident may be allowed to institute a claim against the RAF. However, it must be proved that the accident was caused by the negligence or wrongfulness of the owner of the vehicle. 

> The outcome of every matter will depend on the facts of that specific matter to determine whether this principle will apply or not.

Did you know…A person involved in a single vehicle accident may be allowed to institute a claim against the Road Accident Fund in certain circumstances. 

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