road accident fund claims

The Road Accident Fund (RAF) actively promotes direct claims. It actively discourages claimants from using the services of attorneys when submitting and pursuing claims.

The RAF has even set up hospital-based offices and organised community events to encourage direct claim submissions – a practice uncomfortably close to touting.

The argument is that direct claims will save claimants money. 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.

The RAF’s promotion of direct claims, accompanied by lower payouts

A conflict of interest is evident in the RAF’s claim settlement figures.

In the period when the “RAF on the Road” campaign first began strongly promoting direct claims (from 2016 to 2017), 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.

The RAF on the Road campaign continued through 2019, with RAF agents literally driving out to communities to encourage road accident victims to make direct Road Accident Fund claims.

The pandemic temporarily halted RAF on the Road activities. In the media and on its website, however, the RAF continues to promote direct claims in 2022.

At the same time, direct claimants face issues such as:

  • ever-longer delays in RAF claim and payment processes
  • prescription of claims (the validity of claims expiring due to time limits being passed) while in the hands of the RAF
  • claims being unfairly rejected
  • under-settlement of claims, compared to similar claims made with legal representation.

According to the well-known attorneys’ journal, De Rebus,

“As a result of the public wising up to the fact that the RAF cannot own up to the promises made under the ‘RAF on the Road’ banner, many direct claims are converted to represented claims and there are thousands of documented cases of attorneys successfully suing the RAF for the under-settlement and/or prescription of these matters.”

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.

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.

Submission requirements

The process involved in submitting a direct Road Accident Fund claim is far less simple then the RAF suggests.

Particular forms must be completed and submitted to the appropriate parties. Police, medical and eye witness reports may be required, and relevant time limits must be met.

For anyone who doesn’t have a background in personal injury law, the submission requirements can be challenging to meet.

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 under-settled or rejected due to lack of evidence.

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 RAF processes can cause claims to prescribe. In other words, the claims pass the time limit after which they’re no longer legally valid.

According to an article in De Rebus,

The “RAF’s approach of ‘stepping into the shoes of the legal representative taking over the role of due professional care’ left the RAF with the predicament of having to sue themselves in order to interrupt prescription…”

In other words, the RAF resorted to suing itself to protect the rights of direct claimants from the consequences of its own delays!

This approach was subsequently abandoned. Instead, the RAF began referring affected cases to its CEO, who (arbitrarily) waived claim prescriptions caused by the RAF.

Failure to receive notifications

There have been numerous 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. Doing so will require the services of an attorney.

Road Accident Fund claims with an experienced attorney

Suitably experienced attorneys are familiar with the RAF claims process (and associated pitfalls). They can assist with submissions, ensure everything is done timeously and make sure court dates are attended.

They are also ethically obliged to give each 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 a case, they don’t charge a fee for their services.


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.

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