The South African public is being hoodwinked by the Road Accident Fund as they attempt to cover up gross mismanagement and over-spending. They spend years in court, and millions of rands, defending cases that are not defendable only to settle out of court, eventually paying out pittances to victims when lawyers, or the courts, force them to.
The RAF system has been bedeviled by controversy, corruption, and inefficiency. The only time that it worked effi ciently was when they outsourced to Insurance companies. The RAF is hostile towards the legal profession and would prefer to deal with road accident victims directly and thereby be in a position to compensate them unfairly. Victims would be at the mercy of the RAF and would not be in a position to negotiate for a fair compensation.
The RAF is yet again in court, this time in litigation against the Legal Profession who have the full support of QASA and NCPPDSA. Despite the legal battles raging over current legislation the bull headed RAF is calling for comment on its proposal to have Road Accident Fund compensation move to a “No-Fault” system. At the heart of all these issues is the solvency of the RAF, in spite of having increased the fuel levy to 82 cents per litre.
As it is Today
• Everybody is now entitled to claim compensation, including passengers of a negligent driver, and even where no other vehicle was involved. But there is a catch!
o The amendment has introduced the proviso of serious injuries. According to this a person must have a 30% (or greater) impairment to qualify for compensation. This means that minor injuries like the fracture of tibia or fi bula, an elbow, ankle or even a knee may not be regarded as serious. The RAF calculation employs a complicated American system of impairment evaluation. If you are an office worker, professional, politician or an MP, and you don’t do labour intensive work that involves lifting heavy objects or laying bricks, the injury a less than 30% impairment is not devastating. But if you are a labourer and your continued employment depends on your strength and ability to do manual labour you will be in serious trouble with this amendment.
I’m sure no employer in the building industry for example will be sympathetic towards a worker who is limping or constantly in pain, not when there is such a glut of able bodied job seekers. The prejudice against ordinary South African labourers is very apparent.
For every litre that you put in your tank 82 cents goes to RAF.
If you have a 90 litre tank and fill up once a week you are paying
R320 per month to RAF.
What do you get in return??
o Claims for the past and future medical expenses (non emergency) is limited to public hospital rates. Emergency medical treatment is provided for at a tariff rate to be published in the Government gazette. The quality of public hospitals is notorious but the right to choose better treatment at private hospitals is curtailed.
o The Road Accident Fund Amendment Act has put a cap on what you can claim for future Loss of Earnings at R175 887,00 per year. The loss is obvious if you are earning more than the threshold.
o You may no longer claim the balance of loss of future earning from the negligent driver as the Common right to sue anybody who caused you to suffer damages has been abolished. The driver literally walks free while the victim's life is devastated. A victim will never be able to return to the financial position they were in before the accident.
FAULT or NO FAULT
Under this system, a victim claims directly from the RAF and the victim cannot be represented by a lawyer. The victim will be at the mercy of the RAF and has to accept whatever amount they are compensated.
The system will be like the COIDA - the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Disease Act, the old Workman's Compensation. Workers are not allowed to be legally represented and to have their compensation fairly and speedily processed. Injured workers know the slow pace of finalisation of their claims.
The Advocates of the No - Fault are asserting that the current system is costly, inefficent and too legalistic.
They also argue that the RAF should be just a safety net, a form of social security and not a liability insurance.
No fault reduces fair compensation and benefits to innocent road accident victims and indirectly benefits the negligent driver who caused the accident in the first place.
The system will be an inefficent and expensive bureaucracy.
The question is whether a citizen should have their right to legal representation restricted.
The right of access to courts when there is a dispute is the cornerstone of any Constitutional democracy and to deny such a right is unfair.
To exonerate a negilent or reckless driver is wrong and should be opposed.