Accident victims mount legal challenge to new RAF directive
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Pretoria - Seven accident victims who cannot lodge their claims with the Road Accident Fund (RAF) because they don’t have all documents in line with the new directive are urgently seeking court intervention.
They will meet the RAF and its chief executive Collins Letsoalo in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on June 15, where they will ask for an interim interdict to prevent the entity from implementing the new directive.
Their lawyer, Jean-Paul Rudd of Adams and Adams, said in court papers issued this week that they would ask the court to review and set aside the directive, which was issued in March.
Letsoalo said on Tuesday during a press briefing that the RAF had over the years experienced serious challenges, both financially and administratively.
These problems were compounded by an extraordinarily high motor vehicle accident rate.
He explained that in order for the RAF to streamline settlements with claimants, it needed all the relevant information at the time of lodging a claim.
He said the main root cause of delayed claims and the backlog was the fact that claims were lodged with insufficient information.
According to Letsoalo, all the information pertaining to an accident such as medical and an accident report must be submitted when a claim is lodged to enable the RAF to investigate and settle claims within 120 days.
Letsoalo made it clear that if these documents were not ready, a claim could not be lodged. He called on legal practitioners this week to adhere to the directive in this regard.
Rudd is asking, on behalf of his clients, that the RAF be restrained from refusing to accept new claims without all the necessary documentation.
He said in an affidavit that to avoid his client’s claims, as well as others across the country from prescribing, it was vital to compel the RAF to accept claims which did not adhere to the directive.
He said the RAF Act had set out that a claimant only needed to fill in the prescribed form, coupled with a few necessary documents, in order to lodge a claim.
The directive, which makes additional demands on people who lodge a claim, cannot override the law, Rudd said. The RAF did not refuse to accept claims in terms of the law, but instead because it did not comply with the directives.
Rudd said there were a host of logistical restrictions in obtaining all the documents necessary to lodge a claim, made more difficult as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said obtaining the necessary documentation from the police regarding the accident and the hospital regarding the person’s injuries to submit, as required by the law, was already a challenge. The demands the directive now placed on lodging a claim made it near impossible.
“Our clients are reliant on state institutions to supply information and supporting documents. Their resources are already stretched to breaking point.”
Rudd said he tried to submit a claim on behalf of one of his clients earlier this month. He had attached a host of documents with the claim, but as each and all the blocks could not be ticked, as required by the directive, the RAF refused to accept the claims. His other clients were facing the same fate.
He said that while law firms tried their best to obtain the necessary documentation and had the resources to do this, it was especially the claimants who tried to submit claims by themselves who would suffer injustice.
Rudd said his clients had no alternative to approach the court urgently, as it was not only in their interests that the court pronounced soon on this, but in the interest of the entire country’s population who wanted to lodge claims.
The RAF must still answer to the application, but Letsoalo stressed this week that they took this step as they had a host of “skeleton” claims which could not be disposed of due to lack of vital information.