Law society welcomes RAF ruling
Pretoria - The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) on Friday welcomed the Constitutional Court's ruling that a regulation limiting health care costs in the amended Road Accident Fund Act was unconstitutional.
In a statement released on Friday the LSSA's co-chairperson Peter Horn said however that the LSSA was disappointed that "the abolition of the common-law right to sue the negligent driver or owner for damages (was) not covered in terms of the Amendment Act."
In a judgment handed down on Thursday the Constitutional Court ruled that limiting the amount of compensation that the Road Accident Fund (RAF) has to pay for claims of loss of support was constitutional.
Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke also found that a provision of the RAF Act abolishing road accident victims' common law right to claim compensation for losses not compensable under the act, was constitutional.
The LSSA, Quad Para Association, the SA Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, the Johannesburg Attorney's Association, and people injured in road accidents, had applied to the Constitutional Court to appeal a judgment handed down in the High Court in Johannesburg - which had dismissed their constitutional challenge to amendments to the RAF Act.
Moseneke declared unconstitutional a regulation relating to the tariff of health care services prescribed by the amended act.
Inconsistent and invalid
The LSSA had argued this limited the right of access to health care services guaranteed by the Constitution.
Moseneke found the regulation "inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid".
"Until the Minister for Transport prescribes a new tariff for health services... a third party who has sustained bodily injury and whom the Road Accident Fund is obliged to compensate... is entitled to compensation or health services as if he or she had been injured before the Road Accident Fund Amendment Act 19 of 2005 came into operation," he said in his judgment.
The respondents were the minister of transport and the Road Accident Fund.
In its statement, the LSSA said it was disappointed at "the limitation of the amount of compensation that the RAF is obliged to pay for claims for loss of income or a dependant's loss of support arising from the injury or death of a road accident victim".
But said Horn: "The fact that full compensation for medical and hospital costs has been restored to accident victims is a victory for accident victims, particularly for impoverished victims and those without medical aid."