Claiming from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) is a process fraught with several legal and technical considerations. Aspects related to prescription, the accurate completion of claim forms, the provision of medical and expert records as well as claiming the right amount, become important as they directly affect the prospects of a claim.
While it is possible to claim on your own without the services of a legal practitioner (most claimants do so to avoid paying a percentage of the payout to the legal practitioner), what may seem like “saving” on your pocket may not serve you in the end.
Prescription is regulated by the Prescription Act 68 of 1969, and refers to the time frame within which a claim must be brought. At the expiration of such period, the claimant’s right to claim is extinguished whilst the debtor’s obligations are discharged.
The Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996 (as amended) provides that;
23. Prescription of claim
Realising that your claim which had great prospects of a successful claim has prescribed, is indeed a heartbreaking thing to experience. This is a possibility where an unassisted claimant chases around supporting documents, while unaware of the running of prescription.
An indication as to how much compensation and in which category it falls under, must be clear on the claim forms. Unfortunately, due to the high volumes of claims that RAF receives, its agents may not be as diligent/thorough when they assess the claim documents, which presents a risk of shortchanging claims where inscriptions are unclear. Sometimes it is the unassisted claimants themselves who enable this to happen. RAF claim forms are designed in such a way that the claimant must indicate an amount under any of the specific categories, and then a total. Sometimes unassisted claimants are not knowledgeable on what to claim exactly, and end up shortchanging themselves in this manner. Not that RAF agents will not assist, but due to the busy work environment in which they operate in, they may not go beyond the ordinary where it otherwise would have been necessary.
In support of a claim to be lodged with the RAF, there are several reports that accompany the claim. These may be medical records, psychological reports, accident report etc. Chasing around these reports as an unassisted claimant is usually more complicated than it sounds, as it is not only about obtaining the correct report but also ensuring that the report contains adequate information to sustain a claim. A legal practitioner will not only obtain the correct expert report through approaching trusted experts, but ensure that the information contained therein is adequate enough to support a claim. Further, where a claimant is not assisted by a legal practitioner, RAF will appoint its own experts and questions of impartiality therefore arise.
In practice it does happen that some of the claims are rejected by RAF without sufficient basis. At this juncture, a represented claimant will stand a better chance to succeed in his/her claim should the matter proceed to litigation.
So, “saving” may not serve you sometimes!
At Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated we assist with road accident fund claims while committing to a professional service.
Contact us for comprehensive expert assistance.
The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. One should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this site without seeking legal or other professional advice. The contents of this site contain general information and may not reflect current legal developments or address one’s peculiar situation. We disclaim all liability for actions one may take or fail to take based on any content on this site.
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