Answer to a question from a reader

Can my cousin claim support from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) for her late father, who never received any compensation?

The short answer

Firstly, she should find out what happened to her father's claim. Here are some organisations that could help.

The whole question

My cousin recently lost her father and she was his only child. Before his passing away, he was involved in a major car accident which led to him becoming disabled. However, he never got any compensation from the Road Accident Fund (RAF), even though he submitted all of the required documentation. Now my cousin has no one to support her financially. Can she claim anything from the RAF, even though the accident was years ago?

The long answer

All claimants have to lodge a claim with the RAF within three years of the date of the accident. You say your cousin’s father did lodge a claim and was waiting for the compensation process to start, but has now died after some years and did not receive any compensation. 

The RAF pays out support on a “fault” basis: that means that they work out what degree of responsibility (blame) for the accident was not the fault of the person claiming compensation, and they pay out a sum of money according to that percentage, and according to the seriousness of the person’s injuries. If the accident was entirely due to the negligence of the person, and if he was the owner of the car and no other person was injured, the RAF will not pay out any compensation.

From your email it is not clear if the claim was accepted or rejected by the RAF. The RAF is supposed to take 120 days to process the claim and come up with a settlement offer. If there is no offer from the RAF after 120 days, the claimant can take the RAF to court, which of course is expensive. It is fair to say that the RAF is in deep financial trouble and there are hundreds of thousands of claims that are still unpaid. It can take years to settle a claim. Apparently, over 300 people took the RAF to court in January.

The RAF rules say that family members can claim for support if they can prove that they were dependent on the person who died and that the person owed them a duty of support (as your cousin’s father owed his only child). As your cousin’s father did not die in the accident, but was disabled, and did lodge a claim, it would be best to find out what happened to that claim first. 

Anything to do with the RAF takes a very long time and it may be best for your cousin (or the adult representing her) to get some help in finding out what happened to her father’s claim in the first place, before lodging her own claim for support.

If your cousin is under 18 years old, an adult must lodge a claim for her. If she is 18 years old, she must lodge a claim within three years of turning 18. 

She would need to gather all the relevant documents that she can find, to prove the facts. These would include:

  • RAF Claim Form (or copy/proof that the claim was submitted)

  • Police report of the accident, sketch plan and case number 

  • Details of any other people involved in the accident

  • Her father’s personal details and her own (ID, birth certificate etc)

  • Copies of hospital records and medical documents to do with her father’s injuries

  • Proof of medical expenses

  • Proof of earnings (e.g. salary slips)

  • Any witness statements

and take them to an organisation which might be able to assist her, when she explains her circumstances.

These are the contact details of some organisations:

  • The Black Sash National Toll-free Help Line for free paralegal advice: 072 66 33 739

            Email: [email protected].

            You can also send a text or a please-call-me and a paralegal will be in touch 


[email protected], tel: 021 465 6433. 

           You can also call the Legal Support Hotline on 066 076 8845.

  To get in touch with their Advocacy Programme, please call 0782603536 or         send a please-call-me between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.


Answered on Oct. 9, 2020, 1:52 p.m.

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