If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in South Africa, you may claim directly to the Road Accident Fund (RAF), without making use of the services of an attorney.
Q: Who may claim?
A: Claimants who approach the RAF to initiate a claim for loss or damage which the claimant has suffered as a result of any bodily injury to himself or herself, or as a result of the death of or any bodily injury to any other person, caused by, or arising from, a motor vehicle accident within the borders of South Africa.
Q: What can I claim for?
A: You may be entitled to claim for one or more of the following, depending, amongst others, on the nature and extent of the injury, and, or, whether the claim results from a death:
- Medical expenses (past and future);
- Loss of Income (past and future);
- Loss of support (past and future);
- General damages (for, amongst others, pain and suffering, loss of the amenities of life, and, or disfigurement) if a serious injury has been suffered; and, or
- Funeral expenses.
The RAF has employees stationed at 100 public hospitals, 5 customer service centres, 5 walk in centres, and 5 regional offices that are ready to assist with your claims.
Q: What information do I need to obtain in order to claim?
A: You will need to provide the RAF with the following documents:
- Your identity document;
- The details of any person claiming in a representative capacity;
- An affidavit in which particulars of the accident that gave rise to the claim concerned are fully set out, or copies of all statements and documents relating to the accident that gave rise to the claim concerned;
- The motor vehicle accident report, including the particulars of any witnesses and the drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles involved in the accident;
- The bank account details of the claimant;
- Where applicable, the particulars of the deceased;
- Details of the injured or deceased’s income, if claiming for loss of income or support and particulars of a dependants income, if any, in the event that the dependant is claiming for loss of support;
- Hospital records; and / or
- Invoices, receipts and vouchers for medical or funeral expenses.
RAF employees will assist you to fill in the RAF1 Third Party Claim Form (RAF 1). The medical practitioner who treated the injured or deceased for his, or her injuries sustained in the motor vehicle accident, must complete the Medical Report contained in the RAF 1.
Where the deceased was killed outright in a motor vehicle accident, documentary proof - such as a copy of the relevant inquest record or, in the case of a prosecution of the person who allegedly caused the deceased’s death, a copy of the relevant charge sheet from which it can clearly be determined that the deceased’s death resulted from the motor vehicle accident to which the claim relates, where the deceased person was killed outright in a motor vehicle accident - must be submitted.
Once the RAF1 document has been fully completed by you and handed to the RAF employees, the RAF employees will send the RAF 1 to the RAF offices, where the claims process will be initiated.
Once the RAF1 Claim form has been received by the RAF, an investigation process to verify the information begins. Any additional information required by the RAF, will be requested from the claimant.
At this stage the RAF determines whether the claim is valid. Investigations are done to determine the following:
- Did a motor vehicle accident occur?
- Do the claim documents comply with the statutory provisions?
- Was the claim submitted in time? Where the owner or driver of the vehicle that is alleged to have caused the motor vehicle accident is not identified (hit and run claim), the claim must be submitted within two (2) years from the date of the accident. Persons who are subject to a legal disability such as minors may submit a claim within one year after the legal disability has ceased. If the owner or driver of the vehicle that caused the motor vehicle accident is identified, the claim must be submitted within three (3) years from the date of the motor vehicle accident, while minors may claim within three (3) years after attaining the age of majority. Persons subject to legal disabilities, such as minors may claim within 3 years after the legal disability has ceased.
- The merits of the matter, by assessing the degree of fault, blame or negligence that can be ascribed to each of the drivers of the motor vehicles and the claimant respectively.
The monetary value of the claim is also determined (referred to as the quantum of the claim), based on the amount of the damages or losses suffered. In addition to various investigations relating to the claim for quantum, it may be necessary for medical experts to examine the claimant, to assist in the determination of the extent of the injuries suffered for purposes of establishing the quantum. Where applicable, various experts, such as actuaries may be used to calculate the quantum of future losses.
- Where a death results from a motor vehicle accident, the RAF may pay for the necessary, actual costs to cremate the deceased or to inter the deceased in a grave.
- As the RAF is only liable for the necessary, actual costs, it is worth noting that the RAF will only cover the costs of the actual process of burial or cremation. This includes items such as: the transportation of the deceased’s body; a coffin or burial shroud; preparation of the deceased’s body (including embalming); storage of the deceased body; arranging for the issuing of a death certificate; burial or cremation of the deceased’s body; hiring of equipment to lower the coffin into grave; and grave fees. The RAF is therefore not liable for payment for items such as catering; flowers; tombstones; family transport; and funeral programmes.
In appropriate circumstances, the RAF may provide financial assistance to claimants with regard to the reasonable necessary costs associated with the completion of the medical report which forms part of the RAF 1.
In addition, the RAF, in appropriate circumstances, sends claimants to medical experts at its cost in order to assist in assessing the injuries for purposes of quantifying a claim.
- Once the offer made by the RAF has been accepted by the claimant, the RAF will pay the compensation.
- Following processing of the payment to the claimant, the RAF will finalise and close its file, unless an Undertaking Certificate has been issued to the claimant for future accommodation in a hospital or nursing home, treatment, or the rendering of a service or supplying of goods, in which instance the RAF will refer the claimant’s file to the Post Settlement Claims Department.
Post Claims Settlement:
Apart from the compensation paid to the claimant, the RAF also assists claimants who require on-going medical treatment by offering an Undertaking to enable claimants to access such treatment and rehabilitative services through its Post Claims Settlement Department.
An Undertaking Certificate is an agreement between the claimant and the RAF in terms of which the RAF undertakes to provide for current and future medical needs that the claimant may have, relating to the injuries sustained in the motor vehicle accident. This includes, amongst others, structural changes to homes where required (e.g. access ramps, bathroom modifications) and payment in respect of caregivers and providing access to assistive devices such as wheel chairs.
The RAF has case managers who visit motor vehicle accident victims during their recovery at home, providing on-going support for claimants who require such assistance.