In terms of current legislation, a percentage of all petrol and diesel purchased is utilized to finance the Road Accident Fund (RAF) (a de facto insurer) to enable it to compensate the victims of road accidents for injuries sustained, where the relevant accident has not been caused solely due to their own fault or negligence.
The damages that can be claimed against the Road Accident Fund are only in respect of bodily injuries sustained.
A claim against the RAF therefore excludes any damage to a vehicle or other material damages or losses suffered by the victim, which must be claimed directly from the driver who caused the accident, or his/her insurance carrier.
Motor vehicle accidents after 1 August 2008
The legislation governing claims against the Road Accident Fund was amended with effect from 1 August 2008. The legislative changes resulted in a significant curtailment in the types of damages which the victims of road accidents are entitled to. Some of these changes included the following:
- The introduction of a threshold test for a victim of a road accident to qualify for an award of general damages for pain and suffering and loss of amenities of life;
- The introduction of an upper cap on claims for loss of earnings;
- The abolition of the road accident victim’s common law claim directly against the negligent driver for the recovery of damages for which the Road Accident Fund is not liable.
- Now more than ever it is essential that a road accident victim consult a specialist attorney in this field in order to obtain comprehensive up to date advice as to the legal position and whether or not they have a claim against the Road Accident Fund for their damages suffered.
What to do when you are involved in a motor vehicle accident:
- Obtain as much detail as possible relating to the circumstances of accident;
- Record the full names and contact details of any potential witness(es) to the accident;
- Get the full names and contact details of the driver of the motor vehicle which you believe caused the accident, including the registration details of the vehicle;
- Consult your doctor or local hospital for a thorough medical examination;
- As soon as you are able to do so contact your personal injury attorney. The earlier you involve your attorney the better, particularly relating to the circumstances of the accident, in order that the attorney can obtain the necessary witness statements, photographs of the scene of the accident, as well as photographs of the damaged vehicle(s) and related enquiries.
WARNING: Time limits on motor vehicle accident claims
The Road Accident Fund regulates that road accident claims must be lodged with the Road Accident Fund within three years from the date of accident if the identity of the driver or owner of the vehicle who caused the accident is known, alternatively within two years if the identity is unknown (i.e. a co-called “hit-and-run” claim). Further, in respect of accidents occurring on or after 1 August 2008, the amended Road Accident Fund Act stipulates that where a road accident victim wishes to claim general damages for pain and suffering, a so-called Serious Injury Assessment Report (a Form 4) must be completed by an appropriately qualified and accredited medical practitioner and submitted to the Road Accident Fund within the aforesaid 2 or 3 year period, whichever applies.
Who may claim?
The following people may claim if they are not solely to blame for the relevant accident:
- Dependents of deceased breadwinner.