Personally, I have never been seriously injured in a car accident myself, but I have had a close family member who has, and I know from this first hand that getting into an accident can be very traumatic, and if the accident was not your fault, you should be able to claim from somewhere to help cover your medical expenses and loss of income. This is where the Road Accident Fund comes in.
The Road Accident Fund is a public insurance fund, that is funded by citizens. Every time we put petrol into our cars, a small contribution is made to the Road Accident Fund. It’s basically a public insurance policy that covers you if you’re injured or killed in an accident that was not your fault.
My heart goes out to anyone who has suffered the trauma of a serious road accident. It is a really difficult thing to overcome. Fortunately there is help out there, and the Road Accident Fund is a source of assistance.
I highly recommend that you read on as I explain how the Road Accident Fund handles different types of claims, who and what they cover.
Who Can Claim From the Road Accident Fund?
Anyone who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident within the borders of South Africa can claim from the Road Accident Fund.
Any driver, passenger, cyclist, pedestrian or bystander who’s been injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident can claim from the Road Accident Fund as long as they didn’t cause the accident negligently. Dependants of the victim may also claim loss of financial support if the victim died.
It is also important to mention that the claimant can be both a South African or a foreigner living or on holiday within the Borders of South Africa. So if you are a tourist, and were involved in a vehicle accident on your holiday, you can also take advantage of this life-saving assistance.
The Road Accident Fund will not pay out of the victim caused the accident by acting negligently, such as driving recklessly or under the influence of alcohol.
Who Qualifies to claim from the Road Accident Fund
Before we dive in, I want to make it clear that the Road Accident Fund won’t consider claims, where the person injured or killed, was the cause of the accident through negligent actions.
Serious Injury as a result of an accident
You can only claim from the Road Accident Fund if you have been seriously injured in an accident that was not your fault. But what classifies serious injury? The Road Accident Fund basis its evaluation of whether an injury is serious or not by referring to the American Medical Associations (AMA) Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Sixth Edition.
To qualify for serious injury and be able to claim for general damages the person must be more than 30% impaired according to the guidelines as set out by the American Medical Association. This assessment can only be made by a medical professional who has the required qualification from the AMA
Not Responsible for the Accident
If you have been injured as a bystander, pedestrian, cyclist, passenger, or driver in an accident that you caused out of negligent behavior, you will not be able to claim.
Loss of Financial Support (Dependant of the Victim)
If the family relies on the deceased victim for financial support, then the family can make a claim against the Road Accident Fund for financial support. This claim will only be considered if the victim did not cause the accident by acting negligently.
Funeral Costs (Family who paid for the funeral)
If the family, or even a friend for that matter, had to pay for the funeral costs of the deceased, then they can make a claim to recover these costs from the Road Accident Fund. This claim will only be considered if the victim was not the cause of the accident due to negligent behavior.
What Types of Claims Does the Road Accident Cover?
- Emergency medical expenses.
- Other medical expenses as a result of the accident.
- Loss of income
- General Damages, physical and emotional suffering.
- Loss of financial support for the dependents of the victim.
1. Emergency Medical Expenses
When someone is involved in an accident, the medical expenses start to stack up immediately the second the ambulance arrives. The Road Accident Fund is liable for these expenses if the accident was not your fault.
Be sure to keep all your receipts. Keep track of all your expenses, including travel to and from hospitals, pharmacies, etc.
2. Other medical expenses as a result of the accident.
Many injuries require ongoing treatment. Physiotherapy, multiple surgeries, expensive medicine, and counseling are only some examples.
3. Loss of income
The victim may be unable to work anymore. This might be as serious as complete disability, and so the person cant work at all, or a minor disability where the person has to work reduced hours and so their income if badly affected.
Mental conditions caused by the accident might make a person unable to perform as well as they used to and can cause them to get dismissed from their job too. This will also qualify as a loss of income.
4. General damages, physical and emotional suffering as a result of serious injury.
Serious injuries can cause a lot of emotional and physical pain and suffering. This can reduce the person’s quality of life, and so there can be a variety of unforeseen costs, whether they are financial costs or not. The Road Accident Fund can compensate the victim for this if they can prove serious injury
Examples of injuries that qualify for general damages under serious injuries are:
- Brain damage
- Severely disfigured
- Serious mental disorder
- Loss of an unborn child
General damages from a serious injury cannot be claimed under the following conditions:
- Minor Cuts and Bruises
- Sprains and torn ligaments
- Loss of fingers or toes
5. Loss of financial support for the dependents of the victim.
A lot of the time, the families of the victims don’t realize that they can actually claim from the Road Accident Fund because of the loss of income to their household. This can be a lifesaver for families that rely on the victim to pay the bills and put food on the table.
Unfortunately, they can only make the claim if the victim was not responsible for the accident by acting negligently.
Having access to the Road Accident Fund is not a privilege, it is a right. The money in this fund is supplied by every day South Africans like you and me. Each time we put petrol in our cars, we are actually contributing a small amount to this fund. So when we have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, we have every right to make a claim, as long as were are not at fault.
Anyone who has been injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident within the borders of South Africa can claim from the Road Accident Fund. Not only South Africans but also foreigners who have been injured in a car while on holiday in South Africa.
Dependants of anyone who has been killed in a motor vehicle accident in South Africa that was not at fault can make a claim against the Road Accident Fund for loss of income. And, if you have helped to cover the funeral expenses of a family member, you can claim those expenses back from the fund too.
Again, a car accident can be terrifying, and it can haunt you for years. Not to mention living with disability afterward. Make sure you put in a claim with the Road Accident Fund if you qualify, it won’t undo the damage, but it will help to very much in your new struggle.