Clarity on what you can claim for from the Road Accident Fund

Quite a few long-weekends are coming up and with thousands of South Africans heading out on our roads during this period the worry about the large number of accidents on our roads is again top of mind. It also raises a quite common question of what can you claim from the RAF if you or a family member were injured or died as a result of a car accident on our roads.

The Road Accident Fund Act No. 56 of 1996 (“the Act”) established the Road Accident Fund. This Fund, referred to as RAF, serves the purpose of payment of compensation in accordance with this Act for loss or damage wrongfully caused by the driving of motor vehicles. It also includes compensation for the dependents of individuals who, due to a serious injury in a road accident, no longer have the means of supporting their own dependents.

The Act differentiate between two definite types of damage ­ damage or loss caused by the bodily injury of a third party, and the damage and loss occasioned by the bodily injury or death of any other person in this regard.

That said, there are a number of categories of recoverable damages resulting from bodily injury of a third party. These include:

1.    Medical and hospital costs
2.    Loss of income (limited to an amount determined by the Act)
3.    Loss of earning capacity
4.    Travelling and transport costs (reasonable costs of transport from the accident scene to hospital)
5.    Costs of a nurse and/or assistant, servant, helper or manager
6.    Pain and suffering
7.    Psychological trauma resulting from physical injury (such as anxiety or depression)
8.    Emotional shock by a third party (separate to psychological trauma)
9.    Disfigurement of the body
10.    Loss of amenities (loss of ability to take part in activities such as sports)
11.    Loss of general health
12.    Shortened life expectancy

Loss or damage as a result of the bodily injury or death of another enables a dependent of the injured or deceased to claim for loss of support. The amount claimable is set out in the Act and is currently R315 504.00 per annum. You can also claim funeral costs from the RAF but these costs are limited to actual burial or cremation costs.

Any claimant would need to provide the necessary evidence before succeeding with any part of their claim under any category. Such evidence is generally in the form of a report by an expert in the relevant field such as doctors, actuarial scientists, occupational therapists and/or psychologists.

Important to note is that the RAF will not compensate you for damages to a vehicle or other personal property. The person who suffered loss in this respect may have a delictual claim against the person who caused the damage, but that is for them to pursue in their private capacity. The RAF will also not provide compensation where the person who suffered injuries was the sole cause of any accident without any other person being negligent.

Should you or a loved one have been in a car accident and you are unsure of what you can claim or even whether you should take action against the other driver, consider making contact with us or your attorney to discuss the options available to you.

Disclaimer: This article is the personal opinion/view of the author(s) and is not necessarily that of the firm. The content is provided for information only and should not be seen as an exact or complete exposition of the law. Accordingly, no reliance should be placed on the content for any reason whatsoever and no action should be taken on the basis thereof unless its application and accuracy has been confirmed by a legal advisor. The firm and author(s) cannot be held liable for any prejudice or damage resulting from action taken on the basis of this content without further written confirmation by the author(s).

April 13, 2022
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