The Road Accident Fund (RAF) compensates South Africans injured in road accidents, with pay-outs averaging R100 000. While successful claims might bring much-needed financial relief to victims, the process can be tedious and prolonged and there’s no guarantee that claims will be paid. Here’s what you need to know about the RAF, what it does and how the claims process works.
What is the Road Accident Fund?
The RAF was set up to provide financial compensation to South Africans who have been injured in vehicle accidents on public roads.
Who is entitled to claim?
If you are involved in a road accident and require medical attention, you are entitled to apply for compensation from the RAF. However, if you caused the accident or are the only party involved in the collision, you are not eligible to claim.
What can you claim for?
You can claim for the cost of medical treatment required as a result of a road accident. If the injuries sustained were serious enough to prevent you from working, you can also claim compensation for loss of income. You can even claim for funeral expenses and loss of support from a breadwinner if a family member died in the accident. You cannot, however, claim for damage to your vehicle.
Is there a time limit on lodging a claim?
If the identity of the driver who caused the accident is known, claims must be lodged within three years of the date of the accident. If, however, this information is not known, the claim needs to be lodged with the RAF within two years of the accident.
How does the claims process work?
The first step in claiming from the RAF is to gather all the necessary documents:
- Police report and case number.
- Certified copies of your ID document.
- Certified proof of residence.
- Personal details of everyone involved in the accident.
- Medical documents relating to injuries sustained.
- Testimony from witnesses and medical and legal experts.
- The completed RAF forms required to submit a claim (these can be downloaded in PDF format from raf.co.za).
Submitting your claim
Hard copies of the completed forms and supporting documents must be submitted to the RAF. Faxes and e-mails are not accepted. It would be wise to keep a full set of copies of all the documents, in case the originals get lost or misfiled.
Remember that it is your responsibility to ensure that the claim form and other relevant documentation reaches the RAF as the organisation does not accept responsibility for forms that are lost in the post.
Once a claim is submitted, it is registered by the RAF and the investigation gets under way.
Facts that the RAF will want to determine are:
- Was there indeed a road accident?
- Who or what was to blame?
- How much compensation should be given for damages or losses suffered?
Once your claim has been investigated, the RAF will approach you with a settlement offer. You are under no obligation to accept this initial offer and are free to negotiate. If an agreement can’t be reached, the claim will go to court.
Once the case – in which you may be required to testify – has been heard, the judge will determine what (if any) compensation is due to you.
How long does the process take?
Due to an obviously heavy case load, claims submitted to the RAF could take years to resolve, depending on the complexity of the case.
Factors that could cause a delay include:
- Incomplete claim forms.
- Difficulty obtaining supporting documents required from third parties to substantiate the claim.
- Disputes over the cause of an accident, particularly in cases where contradictory claims are received.
- Disputes over the compensation to be granted.
- Court proceedings.
Does one need an attorney to lodge a complaint?
Securing the services of an attorney with experience in handling RAF claims is a good idea, particularly in more complex cases. There are also information officers at all branches of the RAF to assist people wanting to lodge a complaint. This service is offered free of charge.
How can AA Added Value for Accidents help?
AA Added Value for Accidents provides convenient and hassle-free RAF claims management services and medical, legal and administrative support in your time of need. We will ensure that your RAF claim is settled as quickly as possible so that you have the funds you need to cover medical and other expenses. Furthermore, all services are provided at no additional cost to you, which means you will receive 100% of the compensation owed to you!
Contacting the RAF
Phone any of the following RAF branches:
Pretoria 012 429-5176/5202
Johannesburg 011 223-0000
Cape Town 021 408-3300
East London 043 702-7800
Durban 031 365-2800
Alternatively, visit www.raf.co.za