Road Accident Fund Claims: What You Need to Know

road accident fund claims

The Road Accident Fund (RAF) is a taxpayer-funded insurance vehicle that compensates people who are seriously injured on South Africa’s roads.

In this article we explore the who, what and when of RAF claims in South Africa. We also consider the relationship between RAF compensation and medical aid cover for accident-related injuries.

Who can claim?

The RAF provides compensation for anyone injured in a road accident who wasn’t solely responsible for causing the accident. This includes drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.

According to Kirstie Haslam of DSC Attorneys, the RAF claims process is time-consuming and potentially complex.

Accordingly, it’s not recommended that you try to submit a RAF claim independently. Instead, seek the advice of a qualified personal injury attorney.

The attorney can advise on the validity and strength of your claim, help you navigate the RAF claims process and, when needed, provide legal representation.

What can you claim?

If you’re eligible to claim compensation from the RAF, you may be entitled to:

  • general damages, in cases of serious injury
  • past and future medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident
  • past and future loss of earnings as a result of the accident.

If someone in your family has been tragically killed in a road accident, you can claim compensation for funeral expenses, within prescribed limits.

If the person you’ve lost was a breadwinner, you may also be entitled to compensation for loss of support.

What constitutes serious injury?

Since the 2008 amendments to the Road Accident Fund Act, general damages are payable only in cases involving “serious injury”.

Generally, injuries qualify as serious if they lead to the long-term impairment or loss of bodily function, severe permanent disfigurement or a long-term mental or behavioural disturbance or disorder. Loss of an unborn child is also classified as serious injury.

When does a claim have to be filed with the RAF?

A claim against the RAF must be filed within the following time limits:

  • three years from the date of the accident, if the driver of the other vehicle is known
  • two years from the date of the accident if the driver of the other vehicle is unknown, as in a “hit-and-run” accident.

Medical aid and RAF claims

As a medical aid scheme member, you may wonder how your medical aid benefits impact a RAF claim, and vice versa.

For example, can you claim compensation from the RAF to cover hospital and medical costs that have already been paid from your emergency medical aid benefits?

The short answer is yes. However, you are legally obligated to refund your medical aid scheme for medical expenses subsequently covered again by the RAF.

If the RAF does not compensate you for certain medical expenses relating to the accident, your medical aid scheme remains liable for the treatment costs, based on your available benefits and level of cover.

Typically, it takes many years for a RAF claim to be finalised and paid out. So initially, it remains vital to have appropriate medical aid cover.

At IFC, we offer informed, objective advice about South African medical aid schemes, and can assist you in joining the scheme that best suits your needs and budget. Contact us for more information or to discuss your needs.