Although the Road Accident Fund (RAF) pays out millions each month, many of the claims submitted to the RAF go unpaid due to contradicting or weak evidence supplied by the claimant.
The RAF has also developed a reputation for under-settling direct claims, or delaying to the point where these claims prescribe (expire).
For all these reasons, it’s advised that you use the services of an experienced attorney for RAF claims.
Below we outline:
Do I have a claim?
At DSC Attorneys, we specialise in Road Accident Fund claims. If you’ve been the victim of a road accident, contact us for professional legal help. We operate on a no win, no fee basis.
What’s involved in compiling and submitting a RAF claim
Claiming from the RAF is a complex and time-consuming process. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with the claims process and lacks appropriate legal experience, it is extremely challenging.
For example, compiling and submitting a RAF claim involves the following tasks, among others.
Quantifying a RAF claim for different heads of damage
A RAF claim must state how much compensation is being claimed for each relevant type of loss or damage. The different “claim categories” are known as heads of damage.
Claims must be quantified for the following heads of damage (whichever are relevant):
- past and future medical expenses
- loss of income
- loss of earning capacity
- general damages (pain and suffering, loss of amenities of life, disfigurement, disability and shock).
To claim general damages, it’s necessary to submit a serious injury assessment report (RAF 4). This must be completed by a suitably qualified medical expert who can verify that your injury qualifies as “serious” under the relevant legislation.
Completing prescribed forms
Certain prescribed forms must be submitted as part of a RAF claim. These must be completed carefully and in full.
Obtaining medical reports and specialist medical testimony
A RAF claim must be accompanied by relevant medical records and reports from hospitals and medical reports (RAF 1 and RAF 4) completed by doctors.
The success of RAF claims often relies on testimony from medical experts.
Obtaining police reports
A claim must be accompanied by relevant documents from the South African Police Service.
An affadavit is also required. This must describe how the accident took place.
Gathering and submitting other evidence
If the RAF isn’t supplied with enough evidence to support a claim, the claim is likely to be dismissed.
However, it’s left to the discretion of the claimant to decide what supporting documentation to submit to substantiate the claim.
Each road accident is different, and so is each claim. Without specific guidelines, it can be difficult for someone without relevant legal experience to determine exactly what to include.
Along with medical and police reports, supporting evidence may, for example, include witness statements; photographic, video or other evidence of how the accident occurred; a range of financial documents (from payslips proving salary prior to and after the accident through to medical invoices); and more.
The documents you supply should show the cause of the accident, prove that you were not at fault and substantiate the need for the claimed medical and/or financial support.
Adhering to specific time limits
Specific prescription periods, or time limits, apply to claims against the RAF. These time limits differ depending on whether the driver at fault is known or, as in the case of a “hit and run” accident, not identified.
Various exceptions apply to these time limits.
It’s also necessary to take certain legal steps – like issuing the RAF with a summons if it fails to respond to a claim – within clearly defined time limits.
Costs you have to cover independently for direct RAF claims
For many South Africans, it may be a struggle to cover the upfront costs of a direct claim.
This is something that the RAF has failed to publicise.
Written medical reports are crucial elements of almost any RAF claim. Compiling a successful claim involves having to pay for medical consultations – potentially including consultations with specialists, whose rates can be exorbitant.
Hospitals may also charge for medical reports and records you need to submit to support a claim.
One compelling reason to use an attorney for Road Accident Fund claims is to benefit from a contingency (or “no win, no fee”) agreement. This makes it possible to claim without facing upfront costs – and protects claimants in the event that their claims don’t succeed.
Many attorneys who specialise in road accident cases agree to cover the expenses involved in preparing a claim, including the costs of obtaining medical records and medico-legal reports. The attorneys are then repaid those costs out of the proceeds of the claim, provided the claim is successful.
Legal recourse in the event of a dispute
In the case of a direct RAF claim, you’ll have little to no legal recourse in the event of a dispute.
The entity that you’re claiming against is the self-same one that determines the validity of your claim and the outcome of any associated dispute.
We recommend reading more about this issue in the De Rebus article, Road Accident Fund ‘direct claims’ versus public interest.
By contrast, an attorney can take a range of legal measures to oblige the RAF to meet legal requirements and pay fair compensation for valid claims. These include issuing summons; representing you in court and settlement proceedings; and handling an appeals process, if necessary.
Getting the best outcome for a RAF claim
Claimants with suitable legal assistance and representation have more successful claims – and attract higher compensation – than those who make direct RAF claims.
An attorney will help you to determine how much you’re entitled to claim from the RAF. The attorney will also assist you in building the strongest claim possible so that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Hiring an attorney who specialises in RAF claims
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.