With the festive season fast approaching and car accident rates rising in numbers over this period, it’s worthwhile knowing where you stand with claiming from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) should you be in an accident.
This is according to Kirstie Haslam, partner at DSC Attorneys, who says that since its inception in 1997, the RAF has paid out billions to victims of collisions on South African roads.
She adds: “Although the caps and thresholds to claiming compensation that were introduced in 2008 have undoubtedly influenced the overall value of payouts in recent years, payouts in cases of serious injury are still significant.”
If you’ve been seriously injured or a breadwinner in your family has been killed in a road accident, it’s worth finding out if you’re entitled to compensation. Haslam explains:
RAF payouts: 2017 at a glance
For some time, focus in the media has been on the RAF’s financial woes and alleged mismanagement. Nonetheless, the fund’s total revenue increased slightly, from R33.21 billion in 2016 to R33.34 billion in 2017. This is despite a 0% increase in the fuel levy, which is the RAF’s source of revenue.
The total compensation paid out by the RAF for 2017 amounted to R29.8 billion.
This is compared to R32.3 billion in 2016. The decrease is explained by two statistics:
- there were 8% fewer successful claims than the previous year
- the average value per claim dropped by 18%.
The average claim in 2017 was R117,059, compared to R143,127 in the previous financial year.
With a higher percentage of RAF claims being rejected, it’s particularly important to get help from an experienced attorney if you have a road accident claim.
How much the RAF paid out, by claim type
The RAF provides compensation in four main categories, for loss of income or support, medical costs, funeral costs and general damages.
Compensation for loss of support and funeral costs may be paid in cases where the breadwinner in a family has died in a road accident.
Details of total RAF payouts last year are as follows:
- total loss of income or support claims came to R13.5 billion; the average claim was R645,832 for loss of income and R368,164 for loss of support
- total RAF medical claims came to R2.1 billion; the average claim increased by 44% from R10,447 in 2016 to R15,030 in 2017
- claims for funerals costs amounted to R130 million, with an average payout of R15,264
- general damages payouts for 2017 came to R7.9 billion; the average RAF claim for general damages was R390,004.
What affects the payout amount for a claim?
The value of a RAF payout will depend on a number of factors, such as:
- the extent to which you were responsible for causing a road accident, if you were involved as a driver
- the nature and severity of your injuries, and their likely consequences over the short and long term, as determined by medical experts
- current and likely future medical costs associated with your injuries
- the extent of loss of income or support as a direct result of injuries sustained in a road accident.
Note that the RAF pays road accident victims general damages for pain and suffering only in cases of serious injuries.