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The RAF Claims Process Explained in Simple Steps

The RAF Claims Process Explained in Simple Steps
Aug 20, 2018 gnuworld
raf claims process

Even with expert legal assistance, the process of securing compensation from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) is a time-consuming one.

Below we outline the steps and time frames involved in the RAF claims process, to make it clear what claimants should expect and why a single RAF claim can take years to finalise.

Compiling evidence

As the first step, your attorney will gather and compile evidence to support your claim.

For example, this includes a police report about the road accident and any statements from witnesses.

It includes hospital and other relevant medical records, as well as invoices and statements showing medical expenses relating to your injuries.

It may also include pay slips and other financial statements – for example, if loss of income due to the accident is claimed.

Completing prescribed RAF forms

Certain, prescribed forms must be completed. These include:

  • the RAF 1 form, providing basic information about the accident, the amounts being claimed for different *heads of damage and a medical report
  • the RAF 3 form, which is a statutory accident report form
  • the RAF 4 form, to be completed by a medical practitioner if general damages are claimed in a case involving injuries that qualify as serious; this form may be submitted at a later date, after lodgement of the claim.

* The heads of damage, or types of damages, that can be claimed include past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of income and, in cases involving serious injuries, general damages for pain and suffering.

If a person has died in a road accident, dependants may also claim funeral expenses and, if relevant, loss of support.

Supporting evidence must be properly compiled and included with the required RAF forms.

Lodging the claim

Once all the supporting documents are ready, they must be submitted to the RAF. The claim is then registered on the official RAF claim system.

RAF investigation

At this stage, the RAF has 120 days in which to investigate your claim. They may request additional information or require that you visit a doctor or specialist they appoint for an assessment of your injuries.

In practice, the RAF seldom offers a settlement or resolves a claim within the allotted period. As a result, it can take weeks or even months longer for a case to progress to the next step.

Summons to trial

If you haven’t received a settlement offer once the 120-day period has elapsed and the RAF has not objected to the validity of your claim on appropriate grounds, your attorney may issue the RAF with a summons stating that you’re pursuing the matter in court.

The RAF is then compelled to make an offer or defend its decision in court.

At this point, it’s vital to have a suitably experienced personal injury lawyer in your corner.

If the case does go to trial, you’ll need expert medical testimony to back up your claim. A good lawyer specialising in RAF claims will have access to the right experts, as well as the appropriate legal know-how and experience.

Setting a trial date

Once it’s clear that the matter is to be pursued in court, a trial date must be set. This can be very time-consuming and is dependent on the time taken to navigate through mandatory so-called pre-trial processes.

In South Africa, each division of the High Court has different pre-trial procedures to be complied with before a matter will be considered “trial ready”. Only then will a trial date be allocated.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to secure multiple trial dates – for example, if you have to go to court first to establish the liability or negligence aspect of a claim and thereafter the amount of compensation due.

What usually happens at this point is that the two parties, aided by medical and legal experts, try to negotiate the best possible settlement out of court.

If a settlement can’t be reached, the trial takes place and the claim is finalised. The trial itself may be drawn out, depending on the availability of key experts.

Settlement and payment

Because the RAF is currently facing cash flow problems, it may take time – in some cases, as long as 180 days – after settlement of your claim for the RAF to pay you the awarded amount. However, the RAF will then be liable for interest on the settlement amount.

RAF claims with DSC Attorneys

At DSC Attorneys, we specialise in road accident claims and are deeply familiar with the RAF claims process. 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 – in as short a period as possible. We work on a no win, no fee basis.

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