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Thursday / 20 June 2024
HomeFeatures7 types of car crashes you won’t be able to claim for anymore if government changes the Road Accident Fund

7 types of car crashes you won’t be able to claim for anymore if government changes the Road Accident Fund

If the recent Road Accident Fund (RAF) amendment bill that was tabled by the Department of Transport (DoT) on 8 September 2023 comes into effect, South Africans won’t be able to claim for numerous types of accidents that happen on the country’s roads every day.

Raznae Narayanasami, associate attorney at law firm Adams & Adams, said that the new bill would disqualify motorists from claiming from the RAF in the case of:

  • Hit-and-run accidents
  • Accidents that did not occur on a public road
  • The claimant is not a South African citizen or direct permanent resident
  • Vehicle operator’s passenger liability insurance cover provides cover in relation to the passengers injured or killed in the accident
  • Any driver, pedestrian, or cyclist is over the legally-prescribed alcohol limit regardless of who caused the accident, or was a pedestrian crossing a highway
  • Accident occurred in circumstances where the vehicle was driven while filming a movie or an advertisement, during drag racing, during the performance of a stunt, or a similar event
  • Accident occurred in circumstances where a producer, importer, distributor, or retailer is liable for the harm caused by, or arising from the driving of a vehicle involved in the accident

In addition to these proposed exclusions, the bill has put forward several sweeping changes to the RAF that will have “dire consequences for the public as a whole” if approved, said Narayanasami.

Sweeping changes

For one, the RAF amendment bill aims to change the method for paying out claims to accident victims from a lump sum to a series of annual payments that will eventually equate to what they are owed.

However, the amount payable will be subject to a periodic review of the RAF’s liabilities, and if the claimant dies before the full amount is received, the remainder of the payments will automatically stop and their heirs will not benefit.

“A periodical re-assessment means that a claimant will have no certainty on whether future benefits will be payable,” said Narayanasami.

“Essentially, the loss of earnings compensation is put into place to put a claimant back in the financial position they would have been before the accident, [but] without a lump sum payment or a guaranteed annual payment, a claimant would have little or no chance of attaining financial rehabilitation.”

Moreover, the bill intends to do away with general damages completely.

This is an amount of money awarded for pain and suffering to claimants who have sustained serious injuries in car accidents, and if taken away, it could lead to some victims receiving no benefits from the RAF even if they were severely harmed.

“An example may be of a pensioner or an unemployed person who was rendered a paraplegic or quadriplegic, or who may have suffered an amputation or significant brain injury,” said Narayanasami.

“All these injuries have a severe impact on the victim’s activities of daily living and emotional well-being and have permanent and lasting consequences for the victim for the rest of his/her life, yet the victim will not be compensated for the pain and suffering he/she will suffer for the rest of their lives.”

Under the new RAF system, medical aids will no longer be able to be reimbursed for accident-related medical expenses, either.

This will drastically increase premiums for all medical aid members as the industry is forced to mitigate the risk of members not being covered by the RAF.

“Should the draft bill come into effect as law, the rights of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians to claim compensation for injuries which they have sustained in a motor vehicle collision will be severely prejudiced,” said Narayanasami.

“Therefore, the public is encouraged to participate by objecting to the proposed bill before 8 October 2023.”

Objections can be made at dearsouthafrica.co.za/road-accident-fund/

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