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RAF Loss-of-Support Claims: Compensation for Common-Law Partners

RAF Loss-of-Support Claims: Compensation for Common-Law Partners
Mar 24, 2022 gnuworld
raf loss of support claims

Road Accident Fund (RAF) loss of support claims can result in compensation for those left behind after breadwinners lose their lives to road accidents – and a legally recognised marriage is not a prerequisite for claiming.

Landmark South African cases have established the right of common-law partners to compensation from the RAF for loss of support. In other words, fiancés and unmarried life partners are eligible to claim.

In this article, we offer an overview of:

Requirements for all loss of support claims

To claim loss of support from the RAF, it has to be shown that:

  • the deceased was not solely responsible for the road accident
  • the deceased had an obligation or duty to support the claimant financially
  • the claimant was financially supported by the deceased at the time of his or her death
  • the claimant lost needed support due to the death of the deceased.

Those who can claim RAF loss of support include the accident victim’s spouse, the parent or a legal guardian of dependant children (on the children’s behalf) or a common-law partner.

South African law doesn’t generally recognise common-law marriages, no matter how long the partners live together. However, there are some exceptions – and given relevant conditions, this includes the right of life partners to RAF compensation.

RAF loss of support: compensation for unmarried partners and fiancés

In addition to the general requirements, it must be shown that the relationship that a common-law partner shared with the deceased was like a marriage or leading up to marriage.

The partners, and any minor children, must have lived together as a family unit. The partner must have been financially supported by the deceased, as the sole breadwinner or as part of a joint partnership.

Evidence pointing to a tacit agreement of a union between the partners will be needed.

Some examples are being named a beneficiary in a will or having accounts (for example, for a cell phone or medical consultations) that were paid for by the deceased.

Cases establishing the right of unmarried partners to RAF compensation

Two South African cases have set a legal precedent regarding common-law rights and loss of support claims.

Paixão v Road Accident Fund 2012

In Paixão v RAF, the judge found in favour of the appellant, Maria Angelina Paixão. The decision was based on the grounds that there was an enforceable duty of support arising from Paixão’s relationship with the deceased, Jose Gomes.

Evidence showed that the couple had lived together for several years, prepared wills nominating each other as sole beneficiaries and set a wedding date.

After the claimant was retrenched, Gomes became the sole breadwinner, voluntarily supporting her and her children, until his death.

Kriek v Road Accident Fund (2020)

In a more recent case, Kriek v RAF, the court came to a similar decision based on the fact the plaintiff, Yvette Kriek, was a long-time life partner of the deceased, Jaco van Eetveld.

Kriek, together with her minor children, shared Van Eetveld’s home at the time of his death and he contributed financially towards expenses.

The deceased took out cell-phone contracts in her name, paid for internet connectivity and domestic help, contributed towards the children’s school uniforms, and took her and her children on all-expenses paid holidays.

The court ruled that the claimant was entitled to compensation from the RAF for loss of support arising from the accident.

How to claim RAF loss of support

A claim against the RAF involves having to comply with a range of legal requirements, within set time limits. The process is technical and complex.

Accordingly, the best first step is to approach attorneys who specialise in road accident claims.

An experienced attorney will determine the validity and likely value of a RAF claim for loss of support. The attorney will also build a strong case, meet RAF requirements surrounding the claims process and represent your interests, in settlement and court proceedings.

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RAF claims with DSC Attorneys

At DSC Attorneys, we specialise in road accident claims, including RAF loss of support claims and claims to cover funeral costs.

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. If you may have a RAF loss of support claim, contact us for the very best legal support and representation.

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