Will a claim against the South African Road Accident Fund be dismissed because the victim of a road accident was not wearing a seatbelt? The answer is no, but the victim will be found to share responsibility for the accident along with the driver who caused it.

The process is called apportionment of blame, and serves to allocate percentages of blame in accidents where more than one person is at fault. For example, if a drunk driver ignored a turn signal and crashed into your vehicle, he is obviously to blame for more than one fault. However, if you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, you are also considered to be partially at fault. It is also referred to as contributory negligence. The distribution of blame would still lean very heavily towards the drunk driver, but even being 5 or 10 percent responsible can result in a fine or reduced compensation from the RAF.

Buckle up!

Seatbelts are a legal requirement that are often ignored or forgotten. They help with not only preventing injuries in road accidents, but can reduce the severity of any injuries as well. Every car must be fitted with seatbelts, and every driver and passenger must use their seatbelts. A vehicle without seatbelts fitted is considered un-roadworthy. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers are wearing their seatbelts, and that infants are properly secured in child restraints (baby chairs). The fine for not wearing a seatbelt will be applicable to every guilty party in the vehicle, however.

How can the South African Road Accident Fund help?

If you’ve recently been the victim of a road accident while not wearing your seatbelt, you will still be able to claim for injury or loss. However, your claim reward will be reduced according to the apportionment of blame. This can vary according to the specific circumstances of your accident. Contact Paul du Plessis Attorneys if you want advice when claiming against the South African Road Accident Fund. They can advise and assist in all road accident matters.

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