If you want to claim general damages for pain and suffering after being seriously injured in a road accident, you must know what’s needed to prove serious injury to the Road Accident Fund (RAF).
We look at how to prove your serious injury qualifies for general damages.
How serious injuries are assessed
Serious injury assessments need to be performed by a registered medical practitioner in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the RAF regulations.
These regulations follow the guidelines found in the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (Sixth Edition).
These guidelines specify the criteria for evaluating the victim’s whole person impairment (WPI) level and whether it qualifies as serious.
Criteria for serious injury
If a person’s impairment is rated at 30% or more Whole Person Impairment (WPI) as the result of a road accident, the person qualifies as being seriously injured and can claim for general damages.
As a rule, an injury can only be classified as serious if it includes one or more of the following criteria:
- long-term impairment of a bodily function
- loss of a body function
- permanent, severe disfigurement
- serious long-term mental or behavioural disturbances or disorders
- the loss of an unborn child.
Information needed to assess a serious injury
As part of a general damages claim, a medical professional must submit a Serious Injury Assessment Report. Without it, the claim won’t be approved.
The report includes the following details:
- details of the patient and medical practitioner
- any non-serious injuries
- serious injuries according to the American Medical Association guidelines
- how the injuries occurred (the nature of the road accident)
- how the injuries were treated
- final diagnosis and current symptoms
- medical history of the patient
- social and personal history of the patient
- educational and occupational history of the patient.
Educational, occupational and personal history must be included to assess how the injury has affected the victim’s life, ability to work and earn an income.
It also assesses how any dependants may have been affected.
The medical professional will have to confirm that the patient has reached his or her maximum medical improvement (MMI) or maximum medical recovery (MMR).
This means the patient isn’t going to get any better with continued medical treatment and the injury is lifelong.
What constitutes a non-serious injury?
For non-serious injuries, claims can be made for medical expenses but not for general damages (pain and suffering).
The list of non-serious injuries as stipulated by the Road Accident Fund Act and the Department of Transport include:
- strains, tears, crushes or other damage to soft tissue
- short-term sprains, strains, tears or other damage to ligaments that don’t result in long-term joint instability
- lacerations, abrasions, cuts, tears or damage to skin that doesn’t result in serious disfigurement
- partial or complete amputation of the little finger (pinky) of either or both hands
- partial or complete amputation of a single toe on either or both feet (big toe excluded)
- damage or loss of teeth
- superficial burns
- fracture of nasal bone or damage to the nasal cartilage
- scars caused by any of the above (except for serious disfigurement)
- mild or moderate depression, anxiety, chronic headaches or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Road Accident Fund claims with DSC attorneys
Pursuing a RAF claim is a lengthy, complex process.
It takes experience to know what’s needed to prove serious injury to the RAF and how to claim – and win – adequate compensation for your pain and suffering.
For several reasons, it’s not a good idea to submit a RAF claim without professional legal representation.
At DSC Attorneys, we’re experts in road accident claims, with extensive experience in handling claims against the RAF.
Our personal injury attorneys and medico-legal team are committed to helping road accident victims in our country get the compensation they deserve, in as short a period as possible.
We work on a no-win, no-fee basis.