What is the Road Accident Fund?
Let’s first define what the Road Accident Fund is…
The Road Accident Fund a public body. It’s funded by me and you. Every time we put petrol into our car, we’re paying a contribution not only to taxes, but to the Road Accident Fund, and basically it’s like an insurance policy that if you’re injured in an accident for which you’re not to blame, you have a claim.
Its so important for people to understand what it’s all about, because they are entitled to these claims.
Every day people are paying for this policy, they’re funding it and when they’re injured it would be silly not to claim.
What is the definition of “Serious Injury”?
Serious injury these days, since the 2008 Act came in and it changed things considerably, is much more complicated. It’s one of the reasons you need to have an attorney handling your case, but for example, there recently was a case for a lady. The case went to court and they proved that she had a brain injury that’s affected her entire life, her working career. That was regarded as a serious injury, and because it was regarded as a serious injury, she’s qualified for money for pain and suffering.
In terms of the new act, if you don’t have what the Road Accident Fund consider a serious injury, you won’t get money for pain and suffering, but what is considered a serious injury and what is not considered, is very much dependent on the ruling of various judges plus some criteria laid down by the Road Accident Fund which are extremely strict.
What happens after that, and how do you lodge a claim?
To lodge a claim, that part’s quite simple. Anybody could actually do it, although it’s best to do it with your Attorney who would have all the documents, but there’s a claim form that you fill in (12 or 16 pages), if you’ve got a serious injury, you fill in a serious injury form. You take the claim form and the serious injury form along to a doctor or different doctors or specialists doctors to get those forms filled in.
You need to do an affidavit as to how the accident happened. You’ll also do a sketch of the scene of the accident and various other documents. Once you’ve filled in all of those, completed the requirements and done so within certain time frames, (two years in a hit and run case for example) you take it on to the Road Accident Fund, have it stamped and then you’ve effectively lodged your claim with the Road Accident Fund.
So for different cases there are different time frames in which you must do certain things in order to get the case to progress?
It all depends on the person’s age or whether, for example, in extreme circumstances that they’ve been hospitalized and unconscious for a while, but in a hit and run case, typically you’d have two years to lodge a claim and in a normal accident, typically 3 years but those 3 years would only begin running, for example, once you turned 18. So if you were 13 yesterday, you would still have quite some time to go.
There’s really a lot of things to consider, but one thing that people need to know is, how long does it take?
The usual story that you hear, is somebody lodged a complaint or a claim in court and it took 15 years for it to come about and it never actually even came through.
It can take a long period, but it shouldn’t take 15 years! Typically the bigger cases and those are the ones that go to the higher court typically take between 2 and a half, up to 4 years. They shouldn’t really take much longer than that and smaller cases can be disposed of within a year.
Because those would go to the magistrate’s court and those types of cases either can be settled generally fairly easily or in the magistrate’s court you can get trial dates a lot quicker than you can in the high court.
Its important to note that every day there’s new developments, new definitions and that’s something that lawyers struggle with, let alone a member of the public. So it is always highly recommended that you go through a lawyer when making a claim with the Road Accident Fund.