Claiming from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) in South Africa is complex and often takes years to finalise, according to Kirstie Haslam, partner at DSC Attorneys.
Haslam provided an overview of the steps involved in the claims process for motorists looking to claim from the RAF, below.
It outlines the likely process they will have to follow in the event they approach the fund after being involved in an accident on South Africa’s roads.
How to claim
Haslam said the claims process generally takes a long time due to the RAF’s “heavy caseload, inefficient administration, the time it takes to secure consultations with leading medical experts, delays in securing court dates, and the complex nature of road accident investigations.”
As the first step, Haslam advised that an attorney gather evidence in support of your claim.
- Police report
- Witness statements
- Contact details of everyone involved
- Medical records detailing injuries and any treatments
- Medical invoices and statements relating to your injury
- Other information relating to the accident, such as damage reports
“Your attorney will compile the collected information and evidence for submission to the RAF using the prescribed RAF forms, along with supporting documents,” said Haslam.
Once the claim forms are submitted, Haslam said the RAF registers the claim on its system and after registration, the validity of the claim is investigated.
The investigation should take 120 days to complete. However, Haslam said the RAF often fails to wrap up the process within this time.
“In fact, the RAF may fail to respond before a claim prescribes (lapses after a specific amount of time has passed) if no legal intervention occurs,” she said.
After 120 days have passed, Haslam said your attorney can issue a summons to inform the RAF that you will pursue the matter in court, which will compel it to make a settlement offer or defend its decision in court.
“If the case appears likely to proceed to trial, you’ll need expert medical testimony to back up your claim. A lawyer specialising in RAF claims will have access to the right medical experts, as well as the appropriate legal know-how and experience,” said Haslam.
Haslam said the RAF may make a settlement offer at any point during the claims process. Oftentimes, she said this will happen later in the process – “even after court proceedings are well underway.”
Your attorney can advise on whether a particular settlement offer is in your best interests, said Haslam.
If no settlement offer is received, the claim is pursued in court – but it may take a considerable amount of time to secure a trial date.
Each division of the high court has its own pre-trial procedures to determine whether a case is “trial ready”, and matching up the dates with medical experts who are willing to testify could make the situation more challenging, said Haslam.
In certain cases, it is advisable to secure multiple trial dates.
“An initial court hearing may establish the liability or negligence aspect of a claim and a further hearing may then determine the amount of compensation that’s due,” said Haslam.
“If no settlement is reached, the trial proceeds, and a court decision is reached.”
If you are successful in your claim, it may take the RAF as long as 180 days to pay you the awarded compensation.
Your attorney can also insist that “mora interest” be paid to you on the outstanding amount, starting 30 days after the date of the court order or settlement.