Road Accident Fund! What should I Know?

Road accidents are an unfortunate part of our everyday lives .This becomes an even bigger tragedy where the accident results in serious injuries or even fatalities. Although accidents cannot always be avoided, you can get compensation in the event that you are involved in one. In South Africa a fund was established in terms of the Road Accident Fund Act of 1996 to address matters relating to road accidents, the rules relating to same and compensation .In this article we try and shed some light to what the Road Accident Fund is, when you are legible for compensation and very importantly how one can actually apply.



What is the Road accident Fund?

The RAF is a publicly accessible fund set up to provide monetary compensation to those who have suffered injuries as a result of an accident on public roads. The RAF pays monetary compensation for damages incurred, including medical, legal and loss of income costs.

Who is legible for compensation?

  • Any person involved in a road accident that was not their sole doing, may apply for compensationfrom the RAF, this includes claims resulting from injuries to  claiming on behalf of the deceased
  • Drivers (excluding the driver who caused the accident), passengers and pedestrians involved in the accident.
  • If you were the driver in the accident but are not the owner of the car and the accident was caused by the owner’s negligence (for example, if they didn’t fix the brakes) and you are injured, then you can claim from the fund.
  • A child, spouse or other person who depended on the income of the person who died in the accident.
  • A close relative of the dead person who paid for the funeral.
  • A claimant under the age of 18 years must be assisted by a parent or legal guardian.


When can you not claim?

  • A person who caused the accident cannot claim from the fund. There is only a claim if the accident was caused by someone else’s negligent driving.
  • You cannot claim if you were the only person and vehicle involved in the accident.


What can you claim for?

You may apply for compensation for the costs of the medical expenses, funeral expenses, Compensation for pain and suffering, lost earnings if you are unable to work and loss of support if the main income provider is killed in an accident. Similarly if the injuries are serious enough to prohibit you from earning an income, you may claim compensation for loss of future income.



Process of claiming

You can claim from the Fund yourself (this is however largely inadvisable) or you can get a lawyer to claim for you but you will have to pay for their services. The common practice is that attorneys that take on RAF matters usually do so on a contingency agreement basis. This means that the lawyer’s fees, sometimes including disbursements, will be paid upon finalisation of the matter.


  • Prescription against minors will only commence once they reach the age of 18 years and will be completed three (3) years after attaining majority.
  • In the case of identified claims(i.e. whether the driver is known) the claim of a third party prescribes after three (3) years
  • Hit-and run claims prescribe after two(2) years


  • Contingency agreements are regulated by the Contingency Fees Act .One of the important provisions of this Act is that an attorney can charge his normal fee or a higher fee as specified in your agreement but may not exceed the attorney’s fee by 100% or may not exceed 25% of the total amount awarded by the court to the client. Make sure that the agreement between you and your attorney adheres to this rule.
  • If you as the driver were the sole reason behind the accident you will not be compensated so drive carefully.
  • Knowledge of who the driver (or the lack there of ) is irrelevant , meaning you can claim whether or not you know who the driver of the accident is
  • In a bid to prevent corruption and fraud, the RAF whittled their payout packages to under R 50 000 for serious injuries. The RAF most commonly compensates claimants in amounts equal to previous payouts in similar cases.
  • Please note that this is general advice and that a professional should be consulted before proceeding with a claim

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