Problems with RAF claims

There’s no denying it – the Road Accident Fund (RAF) is in a state of crisis. Over the past decade, a combination of financial, administrative and management problems have left the Fund with a massive backlog of claims, an on-going cash-flow problem and a damaged reputation.

This doesn’t mean that the RAF isn’t settling claims – but more than ever before, it’s in a claimant’s best interests to use the services of a qualified attorney, who can help ensure that the Fund meets its legal obligations in respect of a particular claim.

The RAF’s financial situation

The RAF’s on-going financial woes came to a head in 2017, when its bank account was attached by the sheriff of the court and RAF payments temporarily ground to a halt. It was revealed that the RAF had accumulated debt of roughly R8.2 billion.

In March of the same year, Fund employees belonging to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa went on strike because of poor wages and chaotic working conditions – and Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, ordered that the Fund be investigated for maladministration.

At the start of 2018, the RAF fuel levy was increased by 30 cents per litre, boosting the funds at its disposal. Nonetheless, the Fund continues to face a significant backlog of claims and accusations of poor management.

In the 2017/2018 financial year, the number of claims received by the RAF but not finalised was at 207 461. According to the South African Treasury, it’s likely that this figure will continue to grow.

Delays in settlement of RAF claims

Further delays in the settlement of claims are caused by the RAF's fault-based system.

Under the current system, it's necessary to determine the percentage of each driver’s liability for an accident before the RAF determines the compensation to award a claimant. This makes processing claims a lengthy process.

The result is claimants frequently having to wait months (and even years) just for investigation of their claims to be completed.

Another issue with the current RAF policy is that typically, claims of R100,000 or less are paid out first, meaning that those entitled to large settlements from the fund will have to wait the longest to be paid. In fact, claimants owed settlements exceeding R100,000 can expect to wait many months for payment.

Sometimes this means that those who need the cover most are the last to get it.

What's in store

A replacement for the RAF, in the form of the Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS), is proposed.

The proposed new system differs in several respects from the existing one. For example, compensation for road accident victims will be limited to monthly payments, rather than lump sum payments.

Also, RABS will no longer assign percentages of liability and calculate payouts accordingly. In other words, the system won’t consider who was responsible for causing a road accident when calculating payments.

The proposed successor to the RAF has a number of potentially negative implications for road accident victims. The new system is, however, still being debated.

What you can do for now: securing RAF payments

The best way to secure a fair, reasonably timely settlement from the RAF is to use the services of an experienced attorney, who can negotiate with the RAF on your behalf.

At DSC Attorneys, all our attorneys are highly experienced in personal injury law and offer many years of combined experience in handling Road Accident Fund claims.

In addition, DSC Attorneys supports each client's right to justice by working on a “no win, no fee” basis. Contact us on 086 146 5879 or online to see if you have a claim.

Contact us to see if you have a claim