Landmark South African cases have established the right of common-law partners to compensation from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) for loss of support when one of the partners dies in a road accident.
Here’s an overview of what’s required and the conditions that must be met. We explain how to claim loss of support from the RAF as an unmarried life partner.
Requirements for loss-of-support claims
All claimants who were either formally married to, or in a long-term relationship with, the deceased at the time of his or her death must prove three facts:
- the deceased had an obligation or duty to support the claimant
- the claimant was financially supported by the deceased at the time of his or her death
- the claimant was left without support due to the death of the deceased.
RAF loss of support: compensation for unmarried partners and fiancés
In addition to the general requirements, a common-law partner must show the relationship he or she shared with the deceased was like a marriage or leading up to marriage.
As a couple, 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.
Any evidence that points to a tacit agreement of a union between the partners is required to support the claim, such as being named a beneficiary in a will or having cell-phone, DSTV or medical accounts in the claimant’s name that were paid for by the deceased.
Provided there was a legally enforceable duty of support arising out of the relationship, life partners have a legal right to claim for loss of support. A formally recognised marriage is no longer a legal prescript.
Cases establishing the right of unmarried partners to RAF compensation
These two cases 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.
As a result, 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
As the circumstances of all cases differ, the first step is to approach a law firm specialising in RAF claims. An experienced attorney will determine whether the claimant is eligible for loss-of-support compensation from the RAF, based on the facts of the case.
Once it has been established there is a legitimate claim against the RAF, the claimant will be expected to submit documentation and evidence in support of the claim.
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. Contact us for the very best legal support and representation.