Trauma of an RAF claim

2011-02-19 10:55

Claiming compensation from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) ­appears to be more traumatic than surviving a car accident.

Claimants are sometimes ­subjected to more distress by service providers that deal with the RAF.

Two readers this month ­levelled allegations of negligence from parties helping them with their claims.

In one case, an attorney ­vanished two years ago without ­finalising a claim. As of this week, the Law Society of the Northern Provinces had not been able to ­locate the attorney or the attorney’s ­offices.

The RAF cannot finalise the matter without feedback from the ­attorney.

In the second case, another reader is struggling to receive payment after a successful RAF claim.

The reader was one of three people who were awarded a ­benefit of R108 000 after an ­accident.

The money was ­supposed to be divided among them after the attorneys ­deducted their 25% in fees.

Two claimants received an equal share and our reader got a smaller portion.

The attorneys acknowledged the error, but have refused to ­resolve it.

A law firm specialising in RAF claims, De Broglio Attorneys, ­believes the first thing any lawyer should do is go through a fee structure with the client and ­ensure that both parties agree.

Michael de Broglio, of the law firm, says clients should make sure they sign a percentage fee agreement with the attorney so as to avoid any such confusion or disputes later.

Rates for legal fees vary based on a number of factors which may include the lawyer’s experience­, expertise in the field or the amount of work done. The attorney refused to discuss the attorney fee structure any further.

“It is just unacceptable for the attorney not to explain his fees,” says De Broglio.

Approximately 46c per litre of petrol is paid towards the RAF in the form of an insurance ­payment.

This insurance serves to ­protect both the injured party and the negligent driver who caused the injuries, says RAF spokesperson Connie Nel.

She says a free claims service is available to victims at RAF branches countrywide, but ­victims may decide to engage the services of lawyers for a fee.

In the past, a number of fraudulent claims were submitted to her office, but that all changed with the implementation of internal processing aimed at curbing the scourge.

The RAF is now able to identify suspected fraudulent claims, she says.

The claim process starts with the RAF obtaining documentation and information from an ­insured driver, witnesses and a police report describing the ­accident.

The RAF may also appoint an assessor to trace the insured ­driver or any witnesses.

Based on the merits of the case, the claim can be accepted or ­repudiated, says Nel.

The Law Society of South ­Africa keeps records of practising attorneys and investigates ­complaints levelled against ­them.

» Readers who find themselves in similar situations may contact the RAF 0 0860 23 55 23 or The Law Society of SA 0 012 441 4600

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