01 February 2022

How to claim from the RAF – a step by step guide to the claims process

Submitted by Kisha Reader
How to claim from the RAF – a step by step guide to the claims process

If you or a close family member has been injured in a road accident, you may be investigating how to claim from the Road Accident Fund (RAF). The RAF claims process is complex and time-consuming and generally takes several years to finalise.

This is according to DSC Attorneys partner, Kirstie Haslam, who says it can help to have an overview of the steps involved at the outset and be familiar with the actual claim process.

How to claim: an overview of the RAF claims process

She points out that unfortunately, the claims process can take a long time to complete due to a number of factors.

“Among these are the RAF’s heavy caseload, inefficient administration, the time it takes to secure consultations with leading medical experts, delays in securing court dates and the complex nature of road accident investigations,” she explains.

Although the best advice is to use the services of an experienced attorney, who has dealt extensively with RAF claims who will guide you and give you the best chance of getting the compensation you deserve, Haslam says that knowing the step by step process that is involved can really be helpful.

Submission of required documents for a RAF claim

As the first step, the attorney gathers and compiles evidence to support your RAF claim. Haslam says that for example, this includes:

  • a police report about the road accident
  • contact details of everyone involved
  • medical records detailing injuries and any treatments
  • any witness statements
  • other information relating to the accident, such as damage reports
  • medical invoices and statements relating to your injuries.

“Your attorney will compile the collected information and evidence for submission to the RAF using the prescribed RAF forms, along with supporting documents,” she says.

Registration and investigation by the RAF

Once the claim forms have been submitted, the RAF registers the claim on its claim system and after registration, the validity of your claim is investigated.

Haslam says that the RAF has 120 days to conduct its investigation. However, she points out that the RAF often fails to complete its investigation process within the allotted time.

“In fact, the RAF may fail to respond before a claim prescribes (lapses after a specific amount of time has passed) if no legal intervention occurs,” she adds.

Issuing a summons to the RAF

Once the 120-day period has elapsed, Haslam says that your attorney can issue a summons to inform the RAF that you will pursue the claim in court and then the RAF is then compelled to make a settlement offer or defend its decision in court.

“If the case appears likely to proceed to trial, you’ll need expert medical testimony to back up your claim,” she explains. “A lawyer specialising in RAF claims will have access to the right medical experts, as well as the appropriate legal know-how and experience.”

Negotiating a settlement if an offer is made

Haslam says that the RAF may make a settlement offer at any point in the claims process.

“Assisted by medical and legal experts, the parties negotiate the best possible settlement out of court,” she adds.

This may occur early on. More often though, Haslam says that it happens later in the claims process – even after court proceedings are well underway.

“An experienced attorney is familiar with court rulings about compensation in a broad range of road accident cases,” she says. “So the attorney can advise on whether a particular settlement offer is in your best interests.”

Securing a trial date

If no settlement offer is received, the claim is pursued in court. She says that it may take a considerable amount of time to secure a trial date.

She points out that each division of the High Court has different pre-trial procedures that must be followed before a case is considered “trial ready”. “It can also be challenging to secure a date when key medical experts are available to testify,” she says.

In some cases, Haslam says that it’s necessary to secure more than one trial date. “An initial court hearing may establish the liability or negligence aspect of a claim and a  further hearing may then determine the amount of compensation that’s due,” she adds. “If no settlement is reached, the trial proceeds and a court decision is reached.”

Payment of RAF compensation

She explains that it may take the RAF as long as 180 days, or even longer, to pay you the awarded compensation.

“However, a good attorney will insist that more interest be paid to you on the outstanding amount, starting 30 days after the date of the court order or settlement,” she concludes.

For more information visit: www.dsclaw.co.za