The Road Accident Fund (RAF) is a creature of statue which was governed by the RAF Act 56 of 1996 up until the 31 July 2008. The RAF Act of 1996 was amended and as a result the RAF Amendment Act 19 of 2005 came into operation on the 01 August 2008. The RAF Amendment Act of 2005 didn’t change the RAF Act in totality; it only amended and deleted certain sections of the Act.
The most important changes are the following:
The limitation on passenger claims has been removed.
The members of the same household exclusion have been removed.
The passenger for reward on motorcycle exclusion has been removed.
General damages are only payable if a serious injury was sustained.
Medical expenses for emergency treatment will be paid according to the HPCSA Tariff.
The annual loss irrespective of the actual loss for loss of earnings and loss of support claims is limited to R160 000.00 per annum. This amount is increased quarterly by inflation.
The reasons why the RAF Act of 1996 was amended are the following:To sustain the existence of the RAF.
To simplify the claims procedure.
To ensure financial stability of the RAF.
The RAF compensates the victims of motor vehicle accidents for damages suffered as result of bodily injuries sustained, or for loss suffered as result of the death of someone due to the negligent driving of a motor vehicle.
From the above it is clear that the RAF will be liable where the:
Identity of the negligent driver or of the owner of the motor vehicle who caused the accident has been established (IDENTIFIED CLAIMS);
Neither the identity of the negligent driver or owner of the motor vehicle who caused the accident has been established (HIT & RUN CLAIMS).
There are also 6 elements that must be present in each and every claim in order for the RAF to be liable. These elements are:
Damage or loss suffered
Caused by or arising from the driving
Negligence or wrongful act
Within the borders of the Republic of South Africa
The RAF Amendment Act added a 7th element to the liability description:
A third party will only be compensated for non-pecuniary loss (general damages) for a serious injury. (Only applicable to claims that fall under the Amendment Act – accidents that happened on or after the 01 August 2008.)
All of the above mentioned elements must be present in each and every claim in order for the RAF to be liable to compensate the third party. The heads of damage that the RAF may compensate a third party (claimant) for are:
Past and future medical expenses
Past and future loss of earnings
Past and future loss of support
General damages (only payable for serious injuries sustained in terms of the RAF Amendment Act)
A third party that suffered a loss due to an injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident or has suffered a loss due to the death of someone, and that wishes to lodge a claim for compensation with the RAF, must do so within the periods as prescribed by the RAF or RAF Amendment Act. These periods are called prescription periods.
If the negligent driver or owner is identified and the third party is a major person the claim needs to be lodged within 3 years after the date of accident or date of death to avoid prescription.
If the negligent driver or owner is identified and the third party is a minor person the claim needs to be lodged within 3 years after the date of majority of the minor to avoid prescription.
If the negligent driver or owner is unidentified the claim needs to be lodged within 2 years after the date of accident or date of death to avoid prescription.