Posted on 24-07-2012
Filed Under (Industry News) by Chloe Davies

A shocking 253 111 road accident victims are waiting to be paid compensation – and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) says it will take two to three years to clear the backlog.

Minister of Transport Ben Martins revealed in a written Parliamentary reply yesterday that R12.6 billion had been allocated to pay a projected 210 789 claims for this year.

Along with the huge backlog, the RAF is dealing with numerous fraud cases against attorneys, advocates, medical experts and internal staff.

A total of 20 cases against attorneys was under investigation and two against advocates, while 20 medical experts and 23 RAF staff were also under scrutiny.

Martins said steps were being taken to reduce the payout backlog.

The RAF planned to:

-Propose amendments to RAF legislation and court rules in an effort to reduce legal costs to the fund.

-Consolidate and redistribute claims among the regions.

-Monitor performance against targets.

-Reduce active litigation by settling claims where possible.

-Cut fruitless and wasteful expenditure on claims costs by ensuring claims are paid out promptly.

The RAF was also looking to reduce fraud in the fund by:

-Introducing an anonymous fraud hotline.

-Reaching agreements with law enforcement agencies to help in the battle against fraud.

-Carrying out forensic investigations.

-Introducing a whistleblower policy.

-Strengthening internal control procedures to prevent and detect fraud.

Earlier this year the RAF appeared in Parliament to explain the new Road Accident Benefit Scheme policy, intended to ensure victims receive the full value of payments and reduce the risk of fraud.

The scheme, which has been approved by the cabinet, will adopt a “no fault” policy, which means victims will no longer have to prove fault when claiming from the fund. Lawyers will also be significantly cut out of the claims process.

Maria du Toit, deputy director-general of Transport, explained that many lawyers were capitalising on the claims process, but this would no longer be possible when the “no fault” policy came into effect on January 1, 2014.

“Lawyers are not very fond of the Department of Transport because we are going to take away their jobs,” she said.

Du Toit explained that, although it was never a requirement to have a lawyer in order to claim from the RAF, most victims sought legal assistance in proving fault, and when necessary, to sue the wrongdoer for the rest of the damages if not paid in full by the RAF.

The department has forecast an estimated R42bn deficit by January 2014.

Du Toit said it was important that the new policy started off on a clean slate financially. “The intention is not to burden the entity,” she said.

The cabinet has undertaken to help pay off the deficit when the time comes. -INLSA

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