Skip to main content
BlogMedical NegligencePersonal InjuryPRASARAFRoad Accident Fund

The Difficulty of Making Direct Personal Injury Claims

By July 4, 2022November 8th, 2022No Comments
Why You Should Never Claim From Road Accident Fund Directly

If you have suffered a severe injury that was not your fault, you may be entitled to financial compensation to cover the cost of the harm you have suffered. Personal injury claims can be made in various incidents, including slips and falls, traffic accidents, and medical negligence. In South Africa, most personal injury claims are filed against the Road Accident Fund (RAF), PRASA, and the Department of Health.

You have two options. You can file your claim directly with the organisation, which means you or an immediate family member will represent your case without a lawyer. Or you can get a personal injury lawyer to help you. As personal injury experts in South Africa, we will explain the benefits of hiring an experienced attorney to handle your claim.

Making a claim directly with the RAF

When filing a claim directly with an RAF office, you must visit the office in person. This is problematic for a number of reasons:

Claiming direct from the RAF will cost you time and money

You cannot file a direct claim online, which means you must travel to one of the six regional offices of the RAF and pay travel expenses. Family members supporting you will also need to take time off work to do this. You can expect long lines at RAF offices, and even if you come early in the morning, you may not be seen during the day. If you work with a lawyer, they will deal directly with the RAF office to lodge your claim, and you won’t have to go to the offices.

Getting to an RAF office and waiting in queues is very challenging for those recovering from a serious accident or who are also disabled. An experienced and compassionate personal injury attorney will understand your mobility issues and help you. If you have been involved in a car accident and your car is damaged, you may also have to rely on inconvenient and expensive public transportation.

Using a lawyer to claim from the RAF will be more convenient

An experienced and compassionate law firm will offer you support and assistance with your claim at the RAF. Adendorff Attorneys Inc. offers all of our personal injury clients transportation with our Motor Vehicle Assist team, which collects them from their homes and drops them off for all appointments and court proceedings.

Claiming direct from the RAF could lead to language barriers

If you apply to claim from the RAF, there is no guarantee that you will be spoken to and assisted in a language you understand or are comfortable with when visiting an RAF office. This can make it challenging to communicate the critical information you need to substantiate your claim – especially since the RAF application documents are not available in all eleven official languages of South Africa.

Using a lawyer to claim from the RAF will make communication easier

People claiming from the RAF come from all provinces in South Africa and deserve the right to communicate in a language they are comfortable with. At Adendorff Attorneys Inc, we understand the importance of working with an attorney in your mother tongue, so we have a team of legal translators to assist you in making your claim when you work with us to file an RAF application.

Claiming direct from the RAF you will have a hard time obtaining the documents you need

When making a compensation claim, you must submit official forms and relevant supporting documents for your case. This includes medical reports and certificates, receipts, bank statements and bills, and other documents. A personal injury attorney will gather all of the papers for you.

Dealing with the RAF directly can be challenging, especially since many years may have passed since your accident. As a direct claimant, you would need to contact the hospital where you were treated to obtain medical records, the police department to get your accident records, and in the case of a claim for a minor child, you would need to obtain school records. Then there are the postage and printing costs for the documents, which can be cumbersome and expensive, and hospitals may even charge you for records. If you don’t have the necessary documents you need or submit contradictory or weak evidence to the RAF, your claim may be dismissed.

Using a lawyer to claim from the RAF will save you time and money sourcing documents

At Adendorff Attorneys Inc, we have a team that is dedicated to sourcing all the records you need to support your claim. We know the systems, have contacts we work with that assist us, and have experience in dealing with the police, hospitals and schools that hold the records. We have the documents copied, certified and couriered as part of our service.

Working with a “no win, no fee” lawyer like us also means you can make a claim without paying for upfront costs. You don’t need to have money to pay the lawyer. We only get paid if and when the RAF pays out your claim.

Claiming direct from the RAF will result in a lower settlement payout

The only positive aspect of filing a direct claim with the RAF is that they will likely settle your claim quickly. For example, you would get paid R15,000 compared to the possible R3 million you may be entitled to for your serious injury.

Using a lawyer to claim from the RAF will get you a higher payout

If you have strong legal representation from a firm like Adendorff Attorneys Inc., your chances of success with your RAF claim go up significantly, as does the amount of compensation you’re likely to receive. An attorney can help you understand what you’re entitled to claim from the RAF and will make sure your case is as strong as possible so that you get what you deserve.

A personal injury lawyer will have your particular case and circumstances reviewed by a panel of financial and medical experts, which the RAF will not do. Your attorney will use the expert reports to quantify the appropriate claim to help you get fairly compensated and receive the high payout you need for your ongoing medical care and expenses. It will also take into account potential lost future earnings.

Making a claim directly to PRASA

If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident on PRASA property, you may be able to file a claim in Small Claims Court without hiring an attorney. However, you’ll need legal representation if you’re seeking damages of more than R15,000. If you file your claim directly with PRASA, you must overcome the following challenges.

Claiming direct from PRASA means you will have to represent yourself in a court of law

You cannot file a personal injury claim at PRASA offices. This type of claim falls under “general litigation”. The only way to file a claim is to go through a court. If you choose to file a claim directly with PRASA, you must first notify PRASA with a document that you wish to file a claim. Then, you must represent yourself in court and complete all the court procedures on your own. If the person who suffered the injury has died or is left with a disability, this responsibility will pass to their dependant, spouse or parent.

Communication with PRASA will be done through the court and may involve several weekly interactions. As a direct claimant, you must appear at court every time you correspond with PRASA and use the correct legal wording when you write to them. The courts will not accept documents that do not meet the criteria. If you want to handle your PRASA case yourself, you must have the legal knowledge and understanding of the processes to get anything done. There is also the cost of printing, stamping, and serving the documents, which can be a considerable burden.

Using a lawyer to claim from PRASA gives you someone to represent you in court

If you have suffered an injury, a personal injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve. At Adendorff Attorneys Inc., we will review your claim, gather evidence to support it, and represent you in any legal proceedings, having sourced all the necessary documentation for you. With our help, you will have the best chance of getting the full compensation you are owed.

Claiming direct from PRASA will demand your presence in the correct court

All injured parties must file a claim in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred or where the PRASA offices are located – this means you must travel to the court, even if it is in a different province than where you live. An attorney would know where the correct court is located to file your claim in your particular case. Courts also have “monetary jurisdiction,” which means you need to know which court to go to, based on the amount of your claim. A magistrate’s court would limit a claim to R400,000. If you don’t know how much your claim is worth, or which court to go to, you will have difficulty getting your claim seen by the courts.

Using a lawyer to claim from PRASA will mean the correct court sees your case

A lawyer will not only calculate the highest amount you can claim but will also apply to the appropriate court, such as the High Court, if necessary.

To institute a claim directly with PRASA, you also need evidence to support your asking amount. An attorney handling your case will have a team of financial and medical experts who will personally evaluate your case and come to a fair monetary amount for compensation. Their reports will be used in court to ensure you receive the highest possible payout. As an individual with no legal training or money to hire experts, this will be hard for you to do.

Making a medical negligence claim directly

A medical negligence case dealing with a serious injury would have to go to court as a general litigation matter. Therefore, many of the difficulties you will face in filing a direct claim with the Department of Health or medical practitioner are the same as in a PRASA case (see above).

In a direct action against the Department of Health or others for medical negligence, you will have the following difficulties:

Claiming direct for medical negligence will require you to know exactly who to sue to get a higher payout

You will need to determine the most appropriate person or entity to sue – a nurse, doctor, or private hospital/MEC of the Department of Health. Sometimes the person directly at fault does not have the money to make a large payment for a medical negligence lawsuit.

Using a lawyer to claim for medical negligence will get you a higher payout

Working with an attorney, they will figure out who should be sued to get the highest payout. It is important to have a team of experts on your side to do all the work needed for your claim to be successful for the full spectrum of damages incurred. For example, not just for your medical expenses, but for a payout that considers your care and monetary needs for your lifetime.

Claiming direct for medical negligence means the burden is on you to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt

In a medical negligence case, you must prove that the person responsible for your care failed to meet the “reasonable doctor/nurse” standards of care expected and was negligent. You must also prove that the injury was preventable and therefore deemed negligent. It may be dismissed if you don’t have the proper evidence to support your case.

Using a lawyer to claim for medical negligence will help you prove your case

Medical negligence cases can be challenging to prove without the knowledge, experience, and medical reports that a personal injury attorney can provide you. These cases are often complicated and can take a long time to work through the courts too. Adendorff Attorneys Inc. guides our clients through the lengthy process of instituting a claim against the Department of Health or a private physician.

Do you need a specialist law firm (or lawyer) in South Africa for a personal injury claim?

Our friendly attorneys are waiting for your call. Adendorff Attorneys Inc. has more than 20 years of experience helping victims with medical negligence claims, RAF claims, and PRASA claims. We can help you obtain all the necessary information and documentation to make your claim. We have the expertise to advise you responsibly and work with the best experts to support your claim and see you through to case closure and payout.