Through its “RAF on the Road” campaign, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) has been aggressively promoting direct claims. It has even set up hospital-based offices to facilitate claim submissions – a practice uncomfortably close to touting.
In other words, the RAF is actively discouraging claimants from using the services of attorneys when submitting and pursuing claims.
Unfortunately, statistics indicate that direct Road Accident Fund claims are far from being in South Africans’ best interests.
Why direct Road Accident Fund claims are problematic
The RAF has a direct interest in minimising the amount it pays out to settle claims each year.
For several years, the RAF has been facing administrative and financial difficulties. It has a massive backlog of claims. Accordingly, the less the RAF pays out, the more efficient and effective it appears to be.
This is borne out in the RAF’s claim settlement figures. Between 2016 and 2017, when the RAF on the Road campaign was being strongly promoted, the average value per RAF claim dropped by 18%.
There were also 8% fewer successful claims, and an overall drop in RAF payouts of R2.5 billion.
This creates an obvious conflict of interest, with claimants – many seriously injured in road accidents – hoping for the highest possible settlements to help them cover their medical and other needs.
At the same time that more people are submitting direct Road Accident Fund claims – thanks to the RAF’s own campaign – the total value being paid out by the RAF is continuing to drop.
Other pitfalls of direct RAF claims
Unfortunately, the issues with direct Road Accident Fund claims don’t stop there. Other potential problems with direct claims include the following.
It can be difficult for individuals to meet the strict submission requirements for direct claims without legal assistance. Particular forms must be completed and submitted to the appropriate parties, and relevant time limits must be met.
Reduced likelihood of claim success
Attorneys with suitable legal expertise help clients gather and compile the evidence they need to support their RAF claims.
Often, this includes assisting clients in arranging appointments with leading medical experts, whose opinions are central to the success of claims. It may also involve ensuring that relevant medical records, medical bills and statements from witnesses are included in claim submissions.
Without legal assistance, claimants risk having their claims rejected due to lack of evidence or under-settled.
Increase in under-settlement of RAF claims
The RAF lacks the resources to conduct thorough investigations. Too often, direct claims are met with offers of settlements that don’t take all factors, or long-term implications, of injuries into account, and that appear unfairly low.
Without proper legal advice, claimants have no way of knowing if the offered compensation is fair.
Exceeded time limits
Delays in the submission process can cause the prescription period, or time limit imposed on a claim, to run out, making the claim redundant.
Failure to receive notifications
There have been reports of direct claimants not receiving notifications related to their claims, including summons to appear in court.
Little recourse for claimants
Once a claim is settled – even if it was under-settled – there is little to no recourse for a direct claimant to appeal the RAF’s decision.
Road Accident Fund claims with an experienced attorney
An experienced attorney will be in the position to foresee these pitfalls and circumvent them. They can assist with submissions, ensure everything is done timeously and make sure court dates are attended. They also have the best chance of securing the compensation the claimant deserves because they are ethically obliged to give the case a much higher level of attention than the RAF.
A competent legal representative in an RAF claim will:
- thoroughly investigate the case
- refer the claimant for medical assessments
- obtain hospital and police records on the claimant’s behalf
- prepare an affidavit explaining what happened
- pursue all avenues to ensure the case is concluded with the best possible outcome.
Legal fees need not be a worry either. Most attorneys in these types of claims operate on a contingency basis, meaning if they don’t win the case, there are no fees. And considering they can secure a much higher payout, even after legal fees, the claimant is likely to be much better off than if they submitted their claim directly.
RAF claims with DSC Attorneys
At DSC Attorneys, we specialise in road accident claims.
Our personal injury attorneys and medico-legal team can assess your claim, help prepare supporting evidence and represent you in legal proceedings, giving you the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve. We work on a no win, no fee basis.
Contact us online or call 0861 465 879 for the very best legal support and representation.