One month left to comment on road accident Bill

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pretoria – Members of the public have one month left to comment on a new Bill which provides for a new no-fault benefit scheme aimed at replacing the Road Accident Fund (RAF).

The Department of Transport published the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill on 8 February for public comment.

According to the department a National Workshop will be held on Tuesday, March 19 at Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg to popularise the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill, 2013.

The Bill provides for a new no-fault benefit scheme and a new administrator, called the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Administrator (“RABSA”) and it will replace the RAF as well as the compensation system based on common law principles, administered by it. 

The current system requires claimants to prove that the accident was caused by the fault of another in order to qualify for compensation. 

However, this will no longer be a requirement under the new scheme. Accident victims will qualify for benefits regardless of who caused the accident and benefits will also not be reduced based on the victim’s contributory negligence.

The new system will continue to provide indemnity for owners and drivers who would otherwise have been liable at common law for bodily injuries or death caused by the accident. 

It will also provide victims with a set of defined benefits in respect of payment for healthcare services; income support; family support and funeral benefits.

The department said no benefit will be provided for “pain and suffering”. As far as healthcare is concerned, RABSA will pay for all services reasonably required for the treatment and rehabilitation of accident victims which will include pre-hospital care and inter-facility transfer; emergency and acute care; hospitalisation and outpatient services; rehabilitative care; vocational training; long-term personal care; orthotic and prosthetic devices and mobility aids; structural changes to homes, vehicles and the workplace; and the costs of repairing or replacing mobility aids, orthotic and prosthetic devices used by the injured person which was damaged or destroyed in the accident.

RABSA will only be liable for health care services available and received in the country and the Transport Minister may prescribe a tariff for these services.

As far as income support is concerned, RABSA will pay a temporary income support benefit, where an accident victim is unable to earn an income due to the injuries sustained in the accident, in monthly instalments, subject to certain limits defined in the Bill for a maximum period of 24 months.

The Bill also provides for long-term income support for those victims who suffer an injury in a road accident that results in permanent disability. 

RABSA may require beneficiaries to participate in a vocational training programme and may make the continued entitlement to income support conditional on continued participation in the programme.

As far as family support is concerned, the spouse, child or any other person who was legally entitled to receive support from a person who died in a road accident, will qualify for support, subject to certain limits defined in the Bill.

Again, RABSA will also pay a fixed, lump-sum, funeral benefit of R10 000 to the immediate family members of a person who died in a road accident.

The Bill will aim to pro-actively assist victims and family members to submit claims and facilitate access by such injured persons to early and effective medical and vocational rehabilitation.

Claimants who are dissatisfied with a decision by RABSA will have recourse to internal appeal bodies to ensure the expeditious resolution of disputes.

The current burden placed on the courts by the current fault-based compensation system administered by the RAF will also be alleviated by the new scheme.

In order to ensure timely assessment of claims and access to benefits and to guard against fraud, the Bill provides RABSA with the right to request access to records held by a number of specified organs of state and medical service providers.

RABSA is granted the powers to conduct investigations into claims and for that purpose to subpoena persons to provide information or documentation.

A number of offences are provided for in the Bill, for example a person who knowingly submits false or misleading information to RABSA will be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding  R1 000 000 or to imprisonment of up to 3 years.

The transitional provisions provided for in the Bill make provision for the RAF’s assets, liabilities, rights and obligations to be taken over by RABSA. This will include the liability of the RAF to accident victims whose claims arose before the Bill comes into operation, which claims will be administered by RABSA, in terms of the existing Road Accident Fund Act, 1996, fault-based compensation system.

RABSA will be fully funded by a fuel levy in respect of its functions provided for in the Bill, while Parliament will appropriate money specifically for funding RABSA’s functions in respect of the Road Accident Fund Act, 1996. 

The Bill is available from the Government Printer or on the Road Accident Fund and the Department of Transport websites: at www.dot.gov.za and www.raf.co.za.-SAnews.gov.za

 

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