MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS
There are many risks involved in driving motor vehicles. There is the risk of injuries to the drivers of the vehicles, the passengers in the cars and pedestrians, as well as the risk of damage to the vehicles or things inside the vehicles.
If a person has suffered damages to their property (to the vehicle or things inside the vehicle) as a result of a motor vehicle accident, then they can claim compensation from the driver of the vehicle who allegedly caused the accident. If a person is injured or a breadwinner of a family dies in an accident they can claim against the Road Accident Fund (RAF). The person making the claim will have to prove that the driver of the vehicle was negligent and that this negligence caused the motor vehicle accident. So, people involved in a motor vehicle accident could have the following claims:
The RAF is a Fund set up in terms of the Road Accident Fund Act. It is funded by a levy / tax which is included in the price of petrol and diesel which is sold in South Africa. This is known as a fuel levy. Everyone who buys petrol or diesel pays a little extra for each litre of fuel and this levy goes to the RAF.
Claims for physical injuries to people
Road accidents in all vehicles are automatically covered by the Road Accident Fund Act (No 56 of 1996). In terms of the Act, the RAF covers motor cars and motorcycles but not trains or bicycles.
The Road Accident Fund is a Fund that has been established by the Road Accident Fund Act. The main purpose of the Fund is to limit the liability of the negligent driver of a motor vehicle. The Fund steps into the shoes of the person who has negligently caused the accident and pays any compensation owing to road accident victims.
Note: The Fund is only liable for bodily injuries to either a driver, passenger and in some cases a pedestrian.
A claim can only be made against the Fund if the person who caused the accident was negligent and at fault. Therefore, if a person is injured and they are not to blame for the accident, (in other words, the person injured was not the negligent driver), then they can claim compensation from the RAF.
If the breadwinner of a family is injured or dies in an accident caused by the negligent driving of a motor vehicle by another person, the dependants of the breadwinner can also claim against the Fund for loss of support. There are however cases where the claim for compensation can be limited in respect of the dependants.
Claims for damage to vehicles or goods
The Road Accident Fund does not cover damage to vehicles or things inside the vehicles, such as clothes or watches. Damages for vehicle repairs or broken things must be claimed from the person who caused the accident, or their insurance company.
Extra motor vehicle insurance that you buy from a private insurance company is not automatic. You choose whether you want to pay for extra insurance, for example, fire and theft insurance, balance of third party, and comprehensive insurance. You can then claim from your own insurance company for your own losses, if somebody else caused the accident. If you cause an accident and you have insurance, you can ask the insurance company to pay someone else for the loss that you have caused to them.
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