Being involved in any road accident is traumatic – but it can be especially bewildering if the driver responsible for the collision flees the scene.
Below we outline what to do if you’re in a hit and run accident in South Africa. We also detail how to proceed with a hit and run claim against the Road Accident Fund (RAF).
What is a hit and run accident?
In a hit and run road accident, the driver at fault leaves the scene without stopping or providing their personal details.
Even if nobody is seriously injured in the accident, this is a criminal offence in South Africa. The offending driver could face a significant fine or imprisonment.
Hit and run accidents can involve collisions of two or more vehicles. They also include situations in which a driver hits an unattended, parked vehicle, a pedestrian or an animal and then flees the scene, without providing their details.
The legal duties of any driver involved in a road accident in South Africa
In South Africa, section 61(1) of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 outlines the legal duties of any driver involved in a road accident that results in injuries or damage to property.
The driver is legally required to take these steps:
- immediately stop the vehicle
- ascertain the nature and extent of any injuries sustained by any person
- render assistance to anyone who is injured
- ascertain the nature and extent of any damage
- provide his or her name and address, contact details for the vehicle owner (if this is a different individual) and the vehicle’s registration
- report the accident to the police.
If any person is injured or killed, report the accident immediately. If there is damage only to property, the accident can be reported to the police within 24 hours.
What to do if you’re the victim of a hit and run
If you’re involved in a hit and run accident while driving, pull over to the side of the road as soon as it’s safe to do so and switch on your hazard lights.
Do not chase the offending driver, and don’t leave the scene of the accident yourself.
If you or any other person has been injured, immediately call the police and emergency services.
If possible, assist others who have been injured while waiting for help to arrive. Wait on the scene and follow instructions from any law enforcement officers.
If you’ve been injured, stay as calm as possible and wait for help.
If you’re able, it’s a good idea to gather as much information at the scene as you can. (If you’ve been injured, this will have to wait – but as soon as you can, record as many details as possible). This may help the police catch the driver who hit you. It can also help support any insurance or Road Accident Fund claim you make.
After a hit and run accident, you should aim to:
- if possible, record the license plate number, make, model and colour of the offending vehicle
- record the location, time and cause of the accident, the direction that the offending driver was headed and any other specifics
- if possible, take photos of the damage to your vehicle/person, as well as any evidence such as skid marks or damage to barriers and signs
- get names and contact details of any witnesses – and if the police are not present at the scene to complete a report, gather written statements from any witnesses
- notify your insurance company of the accident if you plan to make a claim; they’ll tell you what further information you need to provide.
Claiming compensation from the Road Accident Fund after a hit and run
In South Africa, any person who’s injured in a road accident that wasn’t solely their fault is entitled to claim compensation from the Road Accident Fund (RAF). This includes anyone injured in a hit and run accident.
Compensation may be awarded for medical expenses, loss of income and, in cases involving serious injuries, general damages for pain and suffering.
Also, if an individual who’s a breadwinner has been killed in a road accident, their dependants are entitled to claim for loss of support and funeral costs.
How long after an accident can you lodge a hit and run claim
Any Road Accident Fund claim involving a hit and run accident must be lodged within two years of the accident date.
The first step in a hit and run accident claim
To maximise your chance of a successful Road Accident Fund claim, start by getting the assistance of a suitably qualified attorney. Opt for an attorney with experience in personal injury claims – ideally, with particular expertise in Road Accident Fund claims.
At DSC Attorneys, we specialise in personal injury law and have extensive experience in handling road accident claims. Contact us for the best possible legal advice and representation. We operate on a “no win, no fee” basis.
How DSC Attorneys can help
At DSC Attorneys, our highly qualified attorneys can help you gather all relevant evidence and supporting documentation to substantiate a claim, guide you through the claim process and represent you in legal proceedings. We operate on a “no win, no fee” basis.