what does the road accident fund pay for

What does the Road Accident Fund pay for if you or a close family member is injured in a road accident? In this article, we cover the details of what compensation can be claimed.

What kinds of injuries does the RAF pay out for?

The Road Accident Fund, or RAF, is a state-supported insurance fund designed to compensate individuals for any loss or damage incurred as a result of road accidents for which they weren’t solely to blame.

Does the RAF pay for minor injuries?

RAF compensation is available for minor injuries that result in damages (or costs) for a road accident victim.

However, RAF claims are complex and time-consuming. Claims may take several years to resolve.

Also, claimants may incur various costs as part of the claims process. This makes it less viable to claim for minor injuries, where the claimed compensation is likely to be small.

What the Road Accident Fund covers

Below we outline what the RAF does and does not cover, and various limitations that apply.

Heads of damage: what you can claim

RAF compensation can be claimed for the following different types, or “heads”, of damages:

  • past and future medical expenses
  • loss of income
  • loss of support
  • funeral costs
  • general damages (limited to serious injuries).

The first four are referred to as “special damages”. They refer to specific losses for which compensation may be awarded.

General damages refer to the claimant’s pain, suffering, shock, disability, disfigurement and/or loss of amenities of life. The RAF provides compensation for general damages only in cases involving injuries that qualify as serious.

Losses that the RAF does not cover

The RAF does not cover damage to vehicles or personal property.

It also does not provide compensation of any kind if a claimant is judged to be solely responsible for having caused the road accident resulting in damages.

Pure “emotional shock” claims involving secondary victims (persons not directly involved in the collision but who suffer a diagnosable psychiatric injury as a result of it) are also excluded.

For example, the RAF would not compensate a mother or spouse who learns of the death or injury of a loved one and suffers a psychiatric injury as a result. In this sole respect, the common law right to sue the wrongdoer directly is retained.

Limits on claim amounts

There is currently no cap on how much compensation you can claim for past and future medical expenses that arise directly as a result of a road accident.

However, there have been moves by the RAF and the Minister of Transport to implement a detailed set of RAF medical tariffs, outlining how much the RAF will pay for a wide range of medical treatments and services. These tariffs are due to be revised periodically.

A cap applies to both loss of income and loss of support claims. This was first established in 2008, as R160,000 per annum. However, the value is adjusted quarterly for inflation, based on the consumer price index (CPI).

The most current cap is published in a Government Gazette (scroll down to the section with the most recent entries) and may be announced in the RAF Media Centre.

Compensation for funeral costs may be paid to a close family member or common-law partner of a breadwinner who dies in a road accident. This is limited to the costs of cremation or interring the remains.

General damages are awarded only for injuries that qualify as serious.

How compensation for future medical expenses works

If your injuries mean you will need future medical care, the RAF may agree to cover projected future medical expenses as part of the settlement.

These expenses aren’t paid upfront. According to a Section 17 undertaking, the RAF may agree to reimburse you for these expenses if and when they occur.

How much the RAF pays out

RAF compensation can range from tens of thousands to several million rand.

For some recent examples of the compensation amounts awarded, see our article on Road Accident Fund payouts.

The total compensation that’s payable by the RAF will depend on the facts of a case.

A number of factors are relevant – for example, the severity and likely long-term consequences of injuries; the earning potential of a claimant prior to being injured; and the availability of expert medical testimony to support a claim.

Another key factor is having competent legal representation. Without this, claimants risk having their claims unfairly rejected or settled for unfairly low amounts.


How DSC Attorneys can help

DSC Attorneys has extensive experience in handling RAF claims. We 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.

Contact us for the very best legal support and representation. Note that we work on a no win, no fee basis.

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