In South Africa, the law says that if you're injured in a road accident, you may not seek damages from the party or parties responsible for the injuries you sustained.
Instead, you can claim compensation from the Road Accident Fund (RAF), which is a state-supported insurance fund.
Are you entitled to claim from the RAF?
You can claim compensation for serious injuries you sustain in a road accident as a car or motorcycle driver, a vehicle passenger, a pedestrian or a cyclist, provided you weren't solely responsible for the accident.
What you need to support a car accident claim
To support a successful car accident claim, you'll need to provide details of the vehicles and parties involved in the road accident that caused your injury, and a description of the accident.
It can help to include a police report, photographs of the accident scene and names and contact details of any witnesses.
You'll also need to provide:
- proof of the extent of your injuries, in the form of a Serious Injury Assessment Report compiled by a medical professional
- details of medical expenses
- details of loss of income and/or support, as relevant.
Note that time limits apply to RAF claims. If the driver responsible for the accident is identified, your claim must be submitted within three years of the date of the accident. In the case of a "hit-and-run" accident, your claim must be submitted within two years of the accident.
How much can you claim?
For car accidents that occurred on or after 1 August 2008, claims for loss of earnings and loss of support are currently capped at R238,670 per year, regardless of the actual loss incurred. This value is the result of adjusting a limit set in 2008 – R160,000 – for inflation.
Compensation for medical expenses is determined based on public healthcare rates.
Should you hire an attorney to assist with your claim?
As a claimant, you have a much better chance of securing a fair, timely settlement if you have advice and guidance from a properly qualified attorney. A suitably experienced attorney can help you navigate the complexities involved in making a claim, and, potentially, make a real difference to the amount of compensation you receive.
The RAF is currently engaged in an active campaign to solicit so-called “direct claims”. In other words, they want to exclude attorneys from the claims process. This is hugely problematic. Not only will you not receive unbiased advice and assistance, but in many instances the RAF will allow your claim to prescribe or will offer you totally inadequate compensation. Once you’ve accepted an offer, however low, you have no further recourse against the RAF for proper compensation.
Why choose DSC Attorneys
DSC Attorneys is a Cape Town law firm that specialises in personal injury claims, with a focus especially on road accident claims.
One of the firm's directors, Kirstie Haslam, has been heavily engaged in the on-going parliamentary process surrounding proposed amendments to the Road Accident Fund legislation. Our other director, Cliff Timms was employed by the RAF for a number of years, enabling him to provide an "inside" perspective of its workings.
All attorneys at the firm are highly experienced in personal injury law and offer many years of combined experience in handling RAF claims.
DSC Attorneys offers a free first consultation and works on a “no-win-no-fee” basis.