To institute a claim against the Road Accident Fund, one does not necessarily need an attorney as it is also eligible to do so in your own personal capacity. However, it is advisable to involve an attorney for various reasons as discussed below.
The Road Accident Fund (herein after referred to as RAF) is a State insurer established by statute to provide for South African and non-South African citizens injured in a motor vehicle accident on any South African road.
The things the Road Accident Fund provides compensation for are; medical expenses that result from a motor vehicle accident, funeral expenses in the case of a death caused by an accident from another person’s negligence, general damages for pain and suffering, provided you suffered a serious injury (as determined with reference to a set criteria in terms of law), have lost an unborn child or have sustained serious disfigurement, mental impairment or the loss of a bodily function, lost earnings (if you were unable to work as a result of an accident), loss of support (if a household’s main income provider was killed in a road accident).
In order to qualify for a RAF claim all the above mentioned need to have been caused by another person’s negligent driving. Nowadays public hospitals have made it more accessible for people injured in motor vehicle accidents to lodge claims without the assistance of an attorney while they are admitted at hospitals. However, this has caused an outcry from some public members as they feel that they cannot determine the appropriate amount of compensation when it comes to such matters and therefore need assistance from a qualified legal practitioner. In most instances the victims are in pain and suffering accompanied by financial constraints and therefore cannot follow up on their respective claims. In addition to the above stated, most motor vehicle accident victims are lay people when it comes to the law and medical profession. This therefore leads to the RAF determining the appropriate compensation according to their discretion alone.
Therefore, public members are eligible to claim from the RAF within three years from date of accident in an accident where the negligent driver is known, but in instances where the driver is unknown a victim only has two years to institute such claim. A claim may be lodged at the hospital RAF offices or at one of RAF’s regional offices.