Most victims of road accidents want to know how much compensation they could receive. So how much does the Road Accident Fund pay out?
It’s a simple query but the answer isn’t straightforward.
Claiming from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) is a complex and lengthy process, and the amount that the RAF pays out will depend on several factors.
One fact is straightforward – road accident victims stand the best chance of receiving the RAF compensation they deserve if they use the services of a suitably experienced attorney.
In this article, we cover:
- how much the RAF pays out per claim
- RAF pay-out averages by claim type
- examples of RAF pay-outs from real cases
- the limit on loss of earnings and loss of support claims
- how a suitable attorney can help.
How much does the RAF pay out per claim?
The amount of compensation that’s awarded by the RAF is determined by the nature of a claim and the types of damages – or so-called “heads of damages” – being claimed.
As of mid-2023, the most recent RAF Annual Report that’s publicly available covers figures from the 2020/2021 period.
According to the report, the average value of a claim was R235,141 – up from R138,010 per claim in the previous financial year.
While this may be the average, many pay-outs – typically those contested in court – are considerably higher.
In 2023, for example, a man who was seriously injured in a road accident was awarded a RAF payout of R4,761,570 for loss of earnings and general damages. In addition, the RAF was directed to cover the full costs of the man’s future medical treatment and accommodation in a hospital or nursing home.
In 2021, the courts awarded a RAF payout of R6,509,622 to a child who was hit on the side of a road and seriously injured by a swerving taxi.
RAF pay-outs for different claim types
There are five different types (or heads) of damages that the RAF pays out for.
Victims of road accidents can claim for past and future medical expenses, loss of present and future earnings and, in cases involving serious injury, general damages for pain and suffering.
If a family breadwinner is killed, his or her dependants can claim for loss of support and for funeral costs.
The average value per claim in the 2020/2021 RAF report was R32,546.
Extensive documentary evidence is essential for a successful claim for past and future medical, hospital and related expenses.
2. Loss of earnings
In 2020/2021, the average loss-of-earnings claim was R1,084,369 (up from R826,007 the previous year).
A victim is entitled to claim any unpaid salary or overtime forfeited that he/she lost (and may lose in the future) because of being indisposed and/or unable to work due to an accident.
If you have suffered a loss of earning capacity (for example, having to work fewer hours or take early retirement, or perhaps losing promotional opportunities), this loss can also be quantified and claimed. Any claim for loss of earnings/earning capacity is subject to a statutory cap.
3. General damages
A general damages claim relates to a victim’s pain, suffering, shock, disability, disfigurement, and loss of amenities of life resulting from injuries sustained in an accident. To qualify for compensation, the injuries must be assessed as serious.
In 2020/2021, the average claim for general damages was for R516,097.
4. Loss of support
If a breadwinner dies of his/her injuries in a road accident, his dependant/s can claim for loss of support. The accident can’t be caused solely by the breadwinner’s negligence.
The average loss-of-support claim in 2020/2021 was R639,006.
5. Funeral costs
Dependants can also claim for funeral costs. The average pay-out was R17,448.
Compensation for funeral costs from the RAF will cover:
- transportation of the body
- provision of the coffin or burial shroud
- preparation of the body (including embalming)
- storage of the body
- arranging for issuing of a death certificate
- burial or cremation of the body
- hiring of equipment to lower the coffin into the grave
- grave fees.
The RAF won’t cover expenses for catering, flowers, transport for attendees, funeral programmes or tombstones.
Examples of RAF pay-outs
How much the RAF pays out isn’t based purely on injury type. All cases are different and numerous factors apply – such as age, your earning capacity and medical costs – in deciding how much the RAF pays out in total.
That said, it’s worth looking at recent pay-outs for specific injuries to get some idea of what compensation you might expect. Claimants would also receive compensation for past and future medical expenses.
|Loss of earnings
|Above-elbow amputation & leg injuries
|Back pain & stiff neck
|Complete motor sensor loss & paraplegic
|Lumbar spine & lacerations
|Multiple leg injuries
|Paraplegia & partial paralysis
|Paralysis & severe head injury
|Severe brain damage
|Severe head injury
|Spine & shoulder
Cap on claims for loss of earnings and loss of support
In a loss-of-earnings or loss-of-support claim, the amount of the annual loss suffered in the past (or prospectively) is capped at a maximum value. Calculation of the loss is undertaken by an actuary, who takes into account the impact of the annual cap.
This value is adjusted quarterly for inflation. The RAF will not pay out any more than this amount.
In April 2023, the limit was adjusted to R342,366 per annum.
Assessing the value of a RAF claim
An attorney who specialises in RAF claims can advise on the merits of your case.
An experienced attorney will also be familiar with the payouts awarded for other claims. Based on knowledge of the law and of previous RAF payouts for claims similar in nature to yours, the attorney can give you some idea of the compensation you may receive.
At DSC Attorneys, we specialise in Road Accident Fund claims. Our personal injury attorneys and medico-legal team can help you get the compensation you deserve, in as short a period as possible. We work on a no-win, no-fee basis.
Contact us for legal support and representation that’s effective, ethical and caring.