Road accident victims take RAF to task
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Pretoria - The case of seven accident victims against the Road Accident Fund (RAF) will be heard in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on Tuesday.
They are asking the court to order that the RAF may not refuse the lodgement of any claims irrespective of whether they have all the reports at hand or not.
The applicants are a handful of many who cannot lodge their claims with the RAF following a directive issued in March that submissions not accompanied by a host of reports would no longer be accepted.
These include accidents and medical reports, which claimants and lawyers said were not immediately necessary when a claim was being lodged.
They argue that many of these reports were difficult to obtain straight away and could be handed to the RAF over time.
The RAF, however, steadfastly refuses to accept any new claims without all the reports as set out in the directive issued by its chief executive Collins Letsoalo.
Lawyers said the directive was contrary to the RAF Act, and thus, they were prepared to meet Letsoalo in court to have the requirement overturned. They also want an interdict against the RAF from refusing to accept new claims.
Their lawyer, Jean-Paul Rudd of Adams and Adams, said in the latest court papers that the RAF on June 4 published a bard notice in the government gazette stipulating the terms and conditions under which claims for compensation would be administered.
Rudd said the notice was probably issued in a bid to correct the “unlawful” implementation of the March directive and to replace it with a new administrative decision, setting out basically the same requirements for the lodging of claims as in the directive.
He said the RAF could not replace one unlawful decision with another.
Rudd stated that the latest notice also demanded the public to submit a host of documentation before lodging a claim, which would make it practically impossible for countless claimants and their lawyers to comply with all these requirements – retrospectively and in future.
Rudd said they would thus next week also ask the court to suspend the notice which was published on Friday.
According to him, only the transport minister can issue regulations in terms of the RAF Act.
Rudd said one of the issues the court would have to determine was whether the act granted the minister the power to delegate these powers to the RAF board to issue and amend regulations.
He said the public at large was prejudiced in circumstances it was not given the opportunity to make input in these matters which concerned them as road users.
The RAF indicated that it will oppose the urgent application although it has not yet filed its opposing papers.
Letsoalo said during a press briefing last month 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 was lodged to enable the RAF to investigate and settle claims within 120 days.
He said they were faced with many claims which they simply could not conclude, as vital information was lacking.