Frequently Asked Questions
How long do I have to claim?
A victim of a motor vehicle accident may either have 2 or 3 years within which to submit his/her claim to the Road Accident Fund from the date of the accident: –
- 2 Years – If the details of the owner or driver of the wrong doing cannot be established.
- 3 Years – If the details of the owner or driver of the wrong doing vehicle are established.
There are exceptions to the period within which a person can submit a claim that extends the period beyond 3 years. These exceptions are as follow:
- Minors: If the date of the accident occurred before the 01 July 2007 then the Age of Majority Act 1972 would apply. This Act recognises that age of majority to be 21. This means that a minor would 3 years from the day he/she turns 21 within which to submit his/her claim to the Road Accident Fund. If the accident occurred on or after the 01 July 2007 then the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 applies and in terms of this Act the age of majority is 18. This means that a minor would have 3 years from the day he/she turns 18 within which to submit his/her claim.Note that if a minor is involved in a motor vehicle accident and the details of the owner or driver cannot be established, that minor will have to submit his/her claim within 2 years from the Date of Accident. If in doubt, phone or email us for advice.
- any person detained as a patient in terms of any mental health legislation;
- a person under curatorship;
Is the RAF bankrupt?
The Road Accident Fund’s primary source of funding is a percentage of every litre of fuel purchased. The Fund also obtains funds from the country’s budget allocation every year. The Fund is not bankrupt, although in the past there were instances of short term cash flow strain. As long as people continue to purchase fuel, the Road Accident Fund will continue to receive funds to settle people’s claims.
Who is entitled to make a claim?
- A person who was personally injured (except a driver who was the sole cause of the accident).
- A dependant of a deceased or injured party for the loss of support that dependant paid
- A close relative of the deceased in respect of funeral expenses.
- A guardian may also claim on behalf of a minor for any of the above reasons
If you are unsure if you are entitled to claim, call us for expert advice.
Couldn’t I claim directly myself?
- A claimant may approach the Road Accident Fund directly and submit a claim. This however is not recommended as the claimant is expected to investigate and gather all the evidence necessary to have his claim submitted. The claimant is further expected pay Tens of Thousands of Rands in order to obtain the necessary medical reports from expert medical practitioners. These are expenses are simple unrealistic from the average man. Unfortunately, it seems that the Road Accident Fund is spending millions of rands that should be directed to compensating accident victims on a campaign to convince the public not to use attorneys. We are regularly approached by clients who were induced by the Road Accident Fund to claim directly, whose claims have prescribed and they have lost their right to claim any compensation. Personal injury litigation is a specialised field and requires specialist attorneys with the experience and resources required to litigate your matter. We refer you to our case studies page for examples of various matters we have dealt with to indicate the differences achieved between what the Road Accident Fund offers and what the court awards a person represented by a specialist attorney.
How long does it take to process a claim?
- Like there are no 2 exact people in this world, each claim is also unique and cannot be compared with any other especially with regard to time. The Road Accident Fund Amendment Act which came into operation on the 1st August 2008 requires a serious injury assessment has to be completed if general damages are being claimed. This report may only be completed once what is referred to as M.M.I (Maximal Medical Improvement) has been reached. M.M.I is only reached once the medical practitioner believes that the patient has reached the stage that there will be no significant improvement or deterioration in the claimant’s condition. This by itself can cause delays.Further, our experience has been that it is unfortunately extremely rare for a fair settlement offer to be made by the Road Accident Fund without the matter being set down for trial.
What about future medical expenses?
- Should there be a possibility of you requiring future medical expenses, we would obtain what is referred to as a Section 17 Undertaking, from the Road Accident Fund. Essentially a Section 17 Undertaking is an undertaking by the Road Accident Fund to cover any of your future medical expenses that are accident related as they are incurred.
What do we charge?
- Firstly we offer a commitment free, no cost, initial consultation in which the merits of your matter can be discussed as well as any other questions that you need answered. Should both parties chose to proceed, we would generally accept the matter on a contingency fee basis whereby we agree to litigate the matter on risk and generally carry the cost of disbursements, for example medico-legal reports, advocates fees, etc. We would then agree to limit our fees to a percentage of not more than 25% of your claim.
What qualifies as a serious injury?
- Since the Road Accident Fund Amendment Act came into effect on the 01st of August 2008, anyone claiming general damages would have to prove that their injuries are serious enough to constitute a 30% long term disability. General damages being a lump sum amount for things such as pain, suffering, loss of amenities of life, disfigurement, etc. In order to determine if your injuries qualify as serious, we will refer you to our panel of medico-legal experts in order to prepare a medical report in terms of the American Medical Association’s Guideline. If your injuries results in a 30% or higher impairment of the whole person as provided for by such guide, then your injuries will be regarded as serious.If however your injury does not qualify as at least 30% whole person impairment, we can still justify it as being serious based on what is referred to as a “Narrative Test”. This would involve sending you for various medical assessments to prove that your injury is serious and long term and falls within 1 of the following categories:
- results in serious long-term impairment or loss of a bodily function;
- permanent serious disfigurement;
- severe long term mental or severe long term behavioural disturbance or disorder;
- resulted in loss of a foetus;
Who pays for the medical reports?
- The cost of the disbursements including the medico-legal report and experts fees to testify etc, are significant and are normally in the region of a few hundred thousand rand upwards per matter, if matter has been taken to trial. The court will normally order the fund to reimburse such costs. As long as our firm is satisfied with the merits of the matter, we will cover those costs upfront and recover them from the Road Accident Fund after the finalisation of the matter.