In South Africa, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) compensates individuals who are injured in road accidents they weren’t solely responsible for causing.
If you’ve been injured, you may be able to claim compensation for medical expenses, loss of income and, in the case of serious injury, general damages. If a breadwinner in your family has been killed in an accident, you can also claim for loss of support and funeral expenses.
The RAF provides much-needed financial relief for accident victims, but the process of claiming and awaiting a settlement is a very lengthy one.
How long you can expect to wait for a RAF payout?
Typically, it takes several years for the RAF to pay out personal injury claims. Three to five years is average, but it’s possible for a claim to take years longer.
Even once your attorney has settled a claim against the RAF or the courts have ordered that the RAF pay you a specific sum as compensation, it can take months before you receive your award.
Why RAF claims take years to be settled
Several factors contribute to the time it takes the Road Accident Fund to settle and pay out personal injury claims.
Many of these relate to the complexity of claims involving personal injury. For example, it can take a significant amount of time for any delayed medical problems to manifest fully after injury occurs. For this reason, it’s common to wait for a period of two years before determining the value of a claim.
In legal jargon, claimants should be given the time to reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).
The legal process itself is responsible for lengthy delays. The RAF has cumbersome administrative processes and is notorious for delays, due at least in part to financial mismanagement and a shortage of funds.
Booking required consultations with suitably qualified medical experts and securing court dates can add further, significant delays to an already lengthy process.
What the RAF claims process entails
A properly executed RAF claim has to go through a mandatory step-by-step process, and every step takes time.
The first step is to collect evidence in support of your claim – for instance, medical records, witness statements and invoices relating to your injuries. Once you’ve accumulated all the relevant information, you have to complete and submit various forms to lodge the claim on the RAF’s claims database.
The RAF has 120 days to investigate your claim. The Fund administrators are entitled to request more information. They can also insist you visit a RAF-appointed healthcare professional to have your injuries assessed.
If the RAF doesn’t make a settlement offer once the 120-day grace period has elapsed, your attorney can issue a summons to notify the RAF that you’re pursuing the matter in court.
If there is still no settlement offer, a trial date has to be secured. The matter will then be settled, either in or out of court. This part of the process can take two years or more.
Even once your claim has been finalised, you may still have to wait for a further 180 days for the RAF to pay you the compensation you’ve been awarded.
How bridging finance from lamna can tide you over
If you have a settlement agreement or a court order requiring the RAF to pay you compensation for your personal injury, you can secure a bridging finance against the value of your claim until such time as it pays out.
This can be a useful way to access needed funds in the months it takes before the compensation you’ve been awarded is actually paid to you. Once you receive the payment, you can use it to repay the bridging finance.
lamna is fully compliant with the National Credit Act (NCA), doesn’t charge hidden fees or penalties and has multiple physical branches across South Africa.
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