Third party claims and the road accident fund
6 July 2020 | Yolandi Vosloo
In South Africa approximately 1 million road accidents are reported every year with the majority caused by human factors. On average 40 people are fatally injured and at least 20 left permanently disabled. With our country’s poor road safety it comes as no surprise that The Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996 was established with the prime purpose of compensating road accident victims.
Who can claim from the Road Accident Fund?
Drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are all entitled to claim from the Road Accident Fund, as long as they were not the sole cause of the accident. The Road Accident Fund specifically covers both South Africans and foreigners involved in motor vehicle accidents on South African Roads.
It is important to note that the Road Accident Fund only covers damages caused by serious injury or death.
The following individuals can therefore claim from the Road Accident Fund:
- Individuals injured in an accident where they were not the driver solely responsible for the accident.
- children, spouses or other individuals who were dependant on the income of a individual killed in an accident , if such individual was not the sole cause of such accident.
- individuals who were close relatives to the deceased and paid for his or her funeral expenses, if such deceased was not the sole cause of the accident.
What needs to be proven to succeed with a claim against the Road Accident Fund?
In order for a claimant to be successful with his or her claim the following factors needs to be proven:
- negligence or another unlawful act on the part of the driver of another motor vehicle.
- physical injury or a financial loss as a result of an injury to a dependant or death of a breadwinner.
- such injury or financial loss was caused by or arising out of the driving of a motor vehicle.
Can claims against the Road Accident Fund prescribe?
When considering lodging a claim with the Road Accident Fund it is important to note that the timeframe for doing so is not unlimited. If the claim emanates from an identified accident lodgement needs to take place within 3 years from the date of accident, death of the deceased or age of majority. In the event of an unidentified claim lodgement needs to take place within 2 years from the date of accident or death of the deceased, irrespective of the fact that the claimant is a minor.
Is the timeous submission of claim documentation sufficient to prevent prescription?
Even if lodgement timeously takes place this will not prevent overall prescription as summons needs to be timeously issued and served upon the Road Accident Fund to institute legal proceedings. When dealing with a timeously submitted identified claim summons needs to be issued and served within 5 years from the date of accident, death of the deceased or age of majority. Similarly in a timeously submitted unidentified claim summons needs to be issued and served within a period of 5 years from the date of accident or death of the deceased irrespective of the fact that the Plaintiff is a minor.
Compensation claimable from the Road Accident Fund?
If successful the following can be recovered:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Past and future loss of income.
- Past and future loss of maintenance.
- Funeral expenses.
- General damages for pain and suffering, disfigurement, permanent disability and loss of amenities of life.