Injuries or Death as a result of a Motor Vehicle Accident: Who can claim from the Road Accident Fund ?
Maria Mokwebo: HOD (Personal Injury Department)
The Road Accident Fund (the Fund) is a state funded insurance that provides for compensation to the victims of road accidents that occurred within the borders of South Africa. It provides cover for personal injury, funeral expenses, loss of earnings and loss of support (caused by the death of a breadwinner in the family). The Fund only compensates persons who were affected by the accident but did not cause it, meaning there has to be a third party who was at fault.
WHO CAN CLAIM?
A claimant needs to be 18 years or older to claim in his/ personal capacity. Legal guardians of minor children and parents of minors can claim on their behalf. Should a minor child be involved in an accident and their guardians or parents fail to claim on their behalf, once they attain the age of 18 years they acquire the legal capacity to claim for themselves.
Passengers in motor vehicles that are involved in accident, cyclists, pedestrians, drivers (who were not solely wrong/responsible for the accident) and motorcyclists can claim from the Fund. Foreigners who were within the borders of South Africa when the accident happened are covered by the insurance. Drivers who caused the accident but were not the owners of the car at the time of the accident can claim if they can prove that the owner of the car was negligent in one way or another, for example the owner failed to maintain the car or failed to replace worn tyres of his car.
Dependents (minor children, adopted or biological, who lost their parent/s in an accident) represented by their parents or guardians, and spouses who were dependent on the income of the person who died in an accident all have the right to claim compensation from the Fund.
It may happen that a pregnant woman is involved in a motor vehicle accident in circumstances where the liability of the Fund is not excluded. The pregnant woman might even have passed on, but the fetus may have survived the accident. The fetus, having survived the accident, may claim compensation from the Fund, arising from loss of support (as a result of the death of the mother) and any bodily injuries and the effects thereof (for example, the child may have suffered trauma that affected its mental or physical development).
Whilst this blog is limited to categories of persons who may claim from the Fund, it is worth asking this parting question: Claiming from the Fund is not as easy as it appears. It is a process full of technical traps. Can you deal with the legal and technical processes involved in determining if you have a right to claim; the claims procedure; assessing the extent of injuries and correctly quantifying your claim entitlement? Whilst some people have represented themselves, there are often secondary lawsuits against the Fund due to under-settlements/under-payments.
Please note that our blogs do not constitute legal advice. Should you require legal advice on a specific topic or specific facts, you are free to contact our office for a consultation.