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Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill to replace Road Accident Fund - Last chance to speak up

2018-05-14 13:00

CHANGE in MIND SET: Is the best solution for society combat the SA road death statistics to break away from a culture of blatant disrespect of road rules?

Law for All

Cape Town - The new controversial Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) Bill, which will significantly reduce compensation for road accident victims and their families, is one step closer to becoming law and replacing the existing Road Accident Fund (RAF).

What’s more, after giving very short notice, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport will be holding public hearings over the next two weeks.

Easily accessible

So, with this Bill that could drastically affect the lives of South Africans, Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, MD at Law For All, says it is important for people to not brush off this potential change in law, and speak up before it is too late.

READ: Car crashes cost SA millions - MasterDrive 

“This is possibly the last chance citizens and civil organisations will have to raise concerns about this proposed law. It is also an opportunity for those who are able to have their voices heard to stand up for the people who can't access the justice system or afford lawyers”.


What do you think of the new proposed Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) Bill which will replace the existing Road Accident Fund? Email us


 

The fact of the matter is that South African roads are amongst the most dangerous in the world, and motorists are at a high risk of being involved in an accident that could result in severe injury or death.

According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, more than 14 000 people lost their lives on our roads in 2017 alone. That is a figure that shouldn’t be ignored. 

“Should this proposed Bill be signed into law as it stands, it will have a massive impact on road accident victims and their families as compensation will be greatly reduced,” warns Nagtegaal.

“We also have to look at how this is going to affect the poor in SA. They will face complicated legal procedures and strict deadlines when lodging claims without the financial means to hire a lawyer to advise or assist.”

A 'no-fault' system 

Currently, the RAF only compensates those who are seriously injured in accidents, but aren’t fully responsible. However, one of the most glaring inclusions in the new Bill is the introduction of a “no-fault” system.

On the positive side, this will likely reduce costs and administration, while standardising pay-outs; but on the down side, it basically means that all drivers who can prove they were in an accident, even if they were to blame, can claim compensation.

Of course, this means there will be more claims to process and will require an overhaul of an entire system - in short, this isn’t sustainable.    
 
Other objections that have been raised include:
 
• RABS administration can take up to 180 days to accept or reject claims.

• Claimants won’t necessarily be informed of the outcome of their claims.

• Claim appeals must be submitted to the same body that rejects the claims in the first place.

• Payments of benefits will stop after 15 years, when accident victims return to work, or when they turn 60 (whichever comes first). From there, they will then have to claim disability grants. The RABS doesn’t make provision for those who sustain lifelong injuries, and this means that the elderly will be more vulnerable.

• Spouses of a deceased breadwinner will lose their support payments as soon as they turn 60. What’s more, spouses’ own salary will be subtracted from support payments they receive.

• The RABS will decide the nature of medical treatment victims receives and which healthcare provides are to be used.

“With the above in mind, it is clear that the social and economic consequences of this Bill shouldn't be taken lightly,”. Thankfully, there has been some push back from various organisations across the country, with the Law Society leading the pack. But, as mentioned, more voices need to be heard during the scheduled public hearings, asserts Nagtegaal.

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