Road Accident Fund (RAF) versus the Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS)

Road Accident Fund Act (RAF)

The Road Accident Fund Act (RAF) No 56 of 1996 still governs accidents that occurred between 1 May 1997 and 31 July 2008 and Amendment Act 19 of 2005 governs accidents that occurred on or after 1 August 2008 to the present day.

The Road Accident Fund (RAF) created by legislation is a juristic person funded by a fuel levy, which indemnifies the wrongdoer. A claimant must prove that the wrongdoer was negligent and that negligence was a cause of the accident that resulted in injuries or death. The benefits under the Amendment Act 19 of 2005 is that one may claim for past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of earning capacity, past and future loss of support and general damages for serious injuries. The object RAF is compensation for loss or damage caused by a motor vehicle accident.

Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS)

The Minister of Transport and its portfolio committee have drafted a Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill (RABS), which was published for public comment on 09 May 2014, to abolish the Road Accident Fund Act that is provided for payment of compensation to a road accident victim. Its aim was to replace the RAF with a no-fault system of benefits as part of a social security system.

RABS, in essence, seeks to protect the guilty motorist at the expense of the injured party and its main benefits are:

  • Health care services
  • Temporary income support benefits
  • Long-term income support benefits
  • Family support benefits, and
  • Funeral support benefits

It has removed the right to claim general damages.

RABS is proposed to work as a social security grant. The amount payable will be determined by the average national income and will be paid in monthly instalments. If a child should suffer a serious head injury and be incapable of earning a living or living independently, that child will receive the equivalent to the average national income from the age of 18 to 60.

RABS benefits terminate at the death of the beneficiary. This will have serious consequences in terms of the breadwinner, where the injured party is a breadwinner and has been unemployed as a result of the accident. The monthly payments cease when the beneficiary dies and there are no provisions made for any other claims by his or her dependents.

The Gist?

RABS changes the very essence of the remedy available to persons in common law who suffer harm at the hands of another and abolishes compensation based in delict for road accident victims, leaving the injured road accident victim in a deprived position, whereas the RAF steps into the shoes of the wrongdoer and pays the injured party compensation due by the wrongdoer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will minors only be able to claim for benefits once they turn 18 years old?

Yes, minors will only be able to claim income benefits from the age of 18, however, they will qualify for other benefits, i.e. medical benefits from the date of injury. In addition to the income benefit and medical benefit, a minor below the age of 18 would qualify for a family support benefit where the minor lost a breadwinner in the accident.

Will RABS cover people who drive recklessly or under the influence of alcohol?

RABS does not indemnify reckless and drunken drivers from criminal prosecution. It is meant to provide a social security safety net for accident victims and their dependents, regardless of fault. This does not mean that crimes will go unpunished as other State organs will prosecute offenders under the criminal justice system.

Why is there a cut-off point for people being supported under RABS, even if their injuries do not warrant this?

Certain benefits do have limitations placed on the age of the beneficiary, e.g., a surviving spouse is entitled to a family support benefit for a period of 15 years, or until the surviving spouse turns 60 – whichever period is the shortest. Minor dependants are entitled to family support benefits until the age of 18 and are only entitled to income support benefits from the age of 18, until the age of 60 or until they are rehabilitated, whichever occurs first. No age limit applies to medical and rehabilitation benefits.

Why are general damages not being considered under RABS?

The element of fault has been removed, which results in wider coverage and more claims, and no general damages will be paid to ensure that the scheme remains viable and sustainable.

Will accident victims who are aged 60 and over be eligible to claim?

Victims aged 60 and over cannot claim for income or family support benefits. However, the victims do qualify for other benefits provided under RABS i.e. medical and funeral benefits.

Simpsons Attorneys

We have a reputation not just for excellence but for ensuring our clients receive the right compensation. We know the complexities of the Road Accident Fund and have handled thousands of cases successfully. Finding the right personal injury attorney is the difference between being appropriately compensated for these damages, or often receiving little or nothing at all.

There is no better day than today to make sure that you and your loved ones are covered. Contact us at info@simpsons.co.za to discuss your options.

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