The Road Accident Fund (RAF) is a state-supported insurance fund that provides compensation to the victims of road accidents in South Africa. Every time you purchase petrol or diesel, you automatically contribute to a statutorily prescribed levy, which is used to finance the fund.
The RAF provides personal injury and, when applicable, death compensation to those injured in motor vehicle accidents, provided the accidents weren't caused solely by them. The person responsible for the accident is also, in terms of the RAF legislation, indemnified against any claims for compensation for bodily injury (save for so-called “emotional shock” claims).
What you can claim from the Road Accident Fund
The Road Accident Fund provides compensation for:
- medical expenses that result from a motor vehicle accident
- funeral expenses in the case of a death caused by an accident
- general damages for pain and suffering, provided you suffered a serious injury (as determined with reference to set criteria), have lost an unborn child or have sustained serious disfigurement, mental impairment or the loss of a bodily function
- lost earnings, if you were unable to work as a result of an accident
- loss of support, if a household's main income provider was killed in a road accident that resulted from someone else's negligence.
Who can claim from the Road Accident Fund
Drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists can all claim from the Road Accident Fund, as long as they were not entirely responsible for the accident.
The fund provides cover for both South Africans and foreigners involved in accidents on South African roads.
You can claim from the RAF if:
- you were injured in an accident and were not the driver solely responsible for the accident
- you're the driver responsible for the accident but not the owner of the vehicle, and the accident was a result of the owner's negligence (for example, because the owner failed to replace worn brake pads on the vehicle)
- you're a child, spouse or other person who was dependent on the income of a person killed in an accident; for more information, see our article on claiming for someone deceased
- you're a close relative of the deceased and paid for this person's funeral.
You cannot claim from the RAF if:
- you were the driver and are the owner of the vehicle solely responsible for the accident
- you were the only person involved in the accident (for example, you were injured because you crashed your vehicle into a tree or other obstacle, and nothing else, such as badly maintained roads, contributed to the accident).
2008 changes to the Road Accident Fund
The legislation governing claims against the Road Accident Fund was amended with effect from 1 August 2008. The new legislation placed tighter limits on what you can claim for. Consult our simple explanation of the 2008 changes to the rules for claims for more information.
Road Accident Fund claim time limits
The Road Accident Fund requires that you submit a claim within three years of the motor vehicle accident if you know who was responsible.
If you don't know who the responsible driver was – for example, in the case of a claim after a hit-and-run accident – you must submit your claim within two years of the accident.
How to claim from the Road Accident Fund
You need to follow a specific procedure when claiming from the RAF. For more details, see our discussion of the complexities of claiming from the Road Accident Fund.
You need to submit forms with your basic details, details of the accident and the vehicles and parties involved, as well as the amount that you're claiming as damages. A doctor's report, accompanied by an affidavit with police reports, witness statements, and other evidence are also required to support your claim.
Once a full claim has been submitted, with all of the required information, the RAF investigate the legitimacy of your claim.
Why consult an attorney?
Unfortunately, even if you have a legitimate claim, it can take years for an investigation to be completed, and for your claim to be accepted. Find out more about common problems with claims and the danger of direct claims to give you an idea what could be involved.
Road Accident Fund payouts depend on several factors, such as how severe your injuries are, the impact that the accident has had on your life and the cost of future treatment for your injuries.
Often, the Road Accident Fund will make an offer to the claimant in the hope of an early settlement. While taking an offered amount may seem preferable to waiting longer for compensation, the settlement may be only a small percentage of what you could receive as cover if you proceed with your claim.
This is why it's best to obtain the services of an experienced attorney, who can guide you through the entire process, as well as advising you on whether or not an offer made to you is reasonable. Consider more on why you need an attorney and see our guide on the best attorneys for road accident claims for further advice.