Road transport is a vital element that supports and directly contributes to the growth of an economy. Unfortunately, road accidents are considered as a harmful consequence of economic growth and affect economically active as well as other members of the society.

Free markets, particularly in private sectors, are unable to completely address road accident issues and their impact on the economy and society. RAF or the Road Accident Fund offers a means of social security to the nation as well as the economy as it makes available mandatory social insurance claim for all those using the roads of South Africa. The RAF is an insurance scheme run by the government operating with respect to the Road Accident Fund Act 56, 1996.

The Road Accident Fund works in way that the individual making the claim (or claimant) is given a part of the responsibility for an accident. The RAF provides a part of the total settlement to the claimant, basis a percentage, which was not considered as their responsibility. The Road Accident Fund collects premiums through a tax on the transport vehicle fuel.

Procedure for making claim

The claim for the road accident will be registered on an approved legal claim form that offers some fundamental information about the claimant, the involved parties, the vehicles, the place and date of the accident as well as the amount of money to be claimed. Besides this, it also has a medical examination report provided by the doctor in-charge of the case. An affidavit accompanies such a claim form and sets out particulars such as:

  1. Complete details of the road accident.
  2. Witness statements.
  3. Police reports.
  4. Medical and hospital records.
  5. Documents and vouchers supporting the amount claimed.

What can you claim for?

A Road Accident Fund claim comprises several parts, and majority of the people know that part best which is termed by lawyers as ‘general damages’. This is understood by most as the compensation paid for suffering and pain. This is the money which is offered to the claimant for the suffering and pain that he/she has experienced and is determined by the case law, passed down by the judges over a number of years.

In simple terms, the claimant would typically receive a claim amount which is comparable to that received by somebody else for a similar accident in the past. It is important to know that the claim amounts offered in South Africa would not be as much as that offered in a country like the United States.

The factors which separate a bigger claim from a smaller one basically depend on the amount of income lost. Again, this depends completely on the type of injury suffered by the claimant and their present job.

A classic example is that of an attorney who loses his small finger. For him the accident might not be life ending, or more specifically, it is not an injury that would have a huge impact on his employment. However, the same accident could end the career of a pianist.

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