Having the necessary documentation to claim compensation from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) when you’re in a car accident is crucial. However, at the time of the accident, getting medical treatment is always the first priority.
We asked Professional Assistant at Adendorff Attorneys, Simbongile Molomo, to take us through the necessary steps to get your claim process with the RAF started.
“You need to start gathering information. This includes all your hospital reference numbers, details of all witnesses who were on the scene, and pictures from the accident scene. This is everything that is crucial in preparation to make your claim,” says Simbongile.
Medical Information Needed for an RAF Accident Claim
When you leave the hospital, you will be given discharge letters. Your folder number will appear on this and your prescription sheet that the hospital gives you. Your folder number is assigned to you by the hospital.
Why do you need a folder number? When you start your claim with a personal injury lawyer, they will want to trace all medical information from the time of the accident until you are discharged.
“Part of the records that we will need to get from the hospital is your complete RAF 1 form, which is a report from your first treating doctor that confirms that you were indeed in an accident and they were the first person to see you from the scene of the accident. And it shows that there were no other intervening factors that would have added to your injury between the accident scene and your initial medical treatment,” explains Simbongile.
If you’re still recovering in a rehabilitation centre, or are mentally incapacitated, a family member can source the information for you. At Adendorff Attorneys, the team will plan with the client to visit them at the rehabilitation centre or the client’s home, at the client’s request, explains Simbongile. It is part of the personalised service offered by a reputable personal injury law firm like Adendorff Attorneys.
To source the information from a hospital, your attorney will need an identity document showing you are the victim of the car accident and birth certificates if a child was involved in the accident.
A copy of the identity document of the family member assisting the client will also be necessary, or an identity document of the parent of a minor involved in the accident.
Police Report Concerning Road Accidents
Other important information you need to lodge a claim with the Road Accident Fund is witness reports. What happens if you became unconscious after or during the accident, and you were taken in an ambulance and didn’t know who the witnesses are?
When there is an accident where a person is injured, police are always called to the scene. For your personal injury lawyer to find the necessary information from them, you will need to share with your lawyer when and where the accident happened. “We then call the nearest police station, and we ask for the reference number of an accident that happened on that particular day,” says Simbongile.
As part of the case docket, the police have a responsibility to approach every person in the accident or at the scene and get a statement from them. In doing so, they provide that person with a case number and note their details. This is how your personal injury lawyer will be able to trace witnesses.
Witnesses play an important part, says Simbongile. “If our client has sustained, say, a brain injury, they will not recall how the accident happened. So, when we have witnesses, they may at least have clear recollections of how the accident happened. Those would be important people in our case to confirm that the accident did happen and that our client was not negligent in any way,” she says.
Any further information you can supply, such as photographs or videos of the scene, should also be given to your lawyer.
Next Steps in a Personal Injury Claim Against the RAF
If you think you have a valid compensation claim, you should contact Adendorff Attorneys. They will be able to source the information already covered for you. “The next step is for the client to give us a mandate or instruction to act on their behalf, and then we continue from there,” says Simbongile.
The mandate is a signed document. Each firm of attorneys has their set document; it is their instruction to authorise their attorney to act on their client’s behalf in their Road Accident Fund claim. “It just confirms that they are aware that they have instructed us. And it confirms that they haven’t instructed any other attorneys to do the same work. It also gives us consent to obtain all relevant information and documentation required to institute the client’s claim,” says Simbongile.
Your attorney will appoint a merits investigator to your case if the circumstances of the accident aren’t obvious or known. “They will investigate how the accident happened, track down witnesses, and be in direct contact with the relevant police station(s) to obtain information gathered by police personnel who were on the scene. This help in establishing how the accident happened,” says Simbongile. This is an important part of the personal injury claim because your lawyer needs to establish if the client was negligent (at fault) in any way.
“Passenger victims of a motor vehicle accident are usually not negligent in causing the accident because they can’t have actively contributed in a motor vehicle accident happening. Drivers are in control of their vehicles, so usually, they may be found to be partially or solely negligent in a car accident,” explains Simbongile.
“We look at the percentage you have contributed to the accident. That percentage reflects how much the Road Accident Fund is willing to compensate you for your injuries. So, for example: if the other driver is found to be 100% responsible for causing the accident, the Road Accident Fund undertakes to pay 100% of what we’re able to prove for our client. So, if we can prove the case is worth R1 million, they will pay 100% of the R1 million.”
How do you know if you have a valid claim against the RAF? The only situation the RAF does not cover is if you were injured in a car accident while at work or if you were injured outside of South Africa. “If you were driving and you were not on duty, then we can proceed with a Road Accident Fund claim. But if you were on duty and acting within the course and scope of your employment, that then tends to be a COIDA claim. That’s in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injury and Diseases Act,” explains Simbongile.
There are also situations where certain kinds of vehicles aren’t considered “motor vehicles” for purposes of the Road Accident Fund claim to be successful. So, if you’re injured as a result of a bicycle collision, in terms of the Road Accident Fund Act and established legislation, bicycles aren’t motor vehicles for the purposes of putting in a Road Accident Fund claim.
Need help with a personal injury claim against the RAF?
Our friendly attorneys are waiting for your call. Adendorff Attorneys has over 20 years of experience helping victims with claims for compensation against the Road Accident Fund. We will help you obtain all the information and documentation you need for your claim.