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What You Can Claim if a Family Member Dies in a Road Accident

What You Can Claim if a Family Member Dies in a Road Accident
Jul 18, 2019 gnuworld

The loss of a loved one due to a road accident is an enormously painful experience.

If the person who died was the family’s main breadwinner, it can also result in financial difficulties for those left behind.

South Africa’s existing legal system takes this into account. If someone is killed in a road accident that they weren’t solely responsible for causing, that person’s direct dependants may claim compensation from the Road Accident Fund (RAF).

Who can claim compensation

As a general rule, family members, fiancées and common-law partners who were supported financially by the deceased can claim from the RAF.

Claimants need to be able to prove that they were financially dependent on the person who has died and that the deceased indeed owed them a duty of support.

Any income earned by the claimant is brought into account in determining whether there has been a loss of support, and the extent of that loss.

What compensation you can claim

As a close family member of someone who has died in a road accident, you can claim RAF compensation for loss of support and funeral expenses.

Loss of support

A spouse or other close relative who was a financial dependent of the person who died can claim for loss of support from the RAF.

If you’ve lost a boyfriend or girlfriend on whom you were financially dependent, it’s likely to be harder to get your claim approved. However, the RAF does provide loss of support compensation in cases of common-law marriage and for fiancées.

In any claim against the RAF, it’s recommended that you use the services of a suitably qualified personal injury attorney.

Funeral expenses

Family members can claim funeral costs from the RAF. Family members who already covered the deceased’s funeral costs can also claim for compensation.

RAF payments are made to the claimant and not to the funeral parlour. Funeral parlours may not make RAF claims even at the request of the deceased’s family.

Family members can claim for the following funerary expenses:

  • transportation of the remains
  • provision of the coffin or burial shroud
  • preparation of the deceased, including embalming
  • storage of the remains
  • issue of the death certificate
  • burial or cremation of the remains
  • grave fees, including hiring of equipment.

Other funeral-related expenses, such as catering, flowers and tombstones, are not covered by the RAF.

Limitations on RAF claims if a family member dies in a road accident

Certain limitations are imposed on loss of support claims.

Time limits on loss of support claims

The following time limits, known as prescription periods, apply:

  • if the claimant is over 18 and the identity of the negligent driver or owner of the vehicle is known, the claim must be submitted within three years of the date of death
  • if the claimant is under 18, the claim must be submitted within three years of the claimant turning 18
  • for hit and run accidents where the driver is unknown, the claim must be submitted within 2 years of the date of the accident.

Financial limit on RAF compensation for loss of support

Loss of support claims are capped at a specific value. This was set in 2008 as R160,000 per annum – but this value is adjusted quarterly for inflation.

Whenever the cap on RAF loss of support claims is adjusted, the new applicable limit is published in a government gazette. You can check for gazette notices of these adjustments here.

RAF claims with DSC Attorneys

We offer our sincere condolences if you’ve lost a family member because of a road accident.

It’s strongly recommended that if you plan to pursue a claim against the RAF, you get proper legal advice and representation. Find out why direct RAF claims aren’t advised.

At DSC Attorneys, we specialise in RAF 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 for the best possible legal advice and representation.

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