While it is possible for a claimant to claim directly from the Road Accident Fund on their own, using an attorney has advantages that far outweigh trying to claim on your own.
In most instances the reason why claimants choose to try and claim alone is to avoid paying substantial amounts in fees to the attorney. However, this article will attempt to weigh up the benefits of using an attorney in claiming from the Road Accident Fund as opposed to a claimant trying to claim alone.
Firstly, an attorney is an experienced professional in the work they do. They are therefore wary of pragmatic implications in the cases they handle owing to their daily practice.
In matters such as Road Accident Fund claims there are varying categories of damages that one can claim for and what may seem like a straightforward claim may not be. This often results in an unassisted claimant claiming an amount less than they what they should which in turn results in the claimant receiving much less from the Road Accident Fund.
It is not the duty of the Road Accident Fund personnel to advise claimants that they have undercharged their claims, if anything the Road Accident Fund will be seeking to pay as little as possible especially during times when their financial soundness is not in good stead.
Further, the admin personnel of the Road Accident Fund do not function as advisors but as assistants who are merely there to make sure that the forms and all the necessary documents have been submitted to open a file for consideration. This then means the unassisted claimant will most likely end up with less than they should have had they been assisted by an attorney.
Secondly, attorneys are open to negotiating fee agreements with the claimants they assist. With regards to Road Accident Fund claims most attorneys are open to working on contingency fee basis, no win no fee arrangements, and these have the advantage that the attorney must use their knowledge and expertise to weigh the merits of the claim before taking it.
Should the attorney and the claimant agree on a contingency fee agreement, then the attorney is not allowed to charge anything above 25 percent of the capital claim. If the claimant and the attorney agree on a fee agreement other than the contingency fee structure, then the attorney will not charge any amount above 100 percent of those agreed fees.
Besides these, the claimant will also be responsible for other costs such as the medical reports, accident reports, expert reports although some of these are recoverable from the Road Accident Fund as party and party costs.
Thirdly, if the Road Accident Fund tables an offer that does not include all the damages that were claimed, an attorney is best placed to advise on the pros and cons of whether it is worthwhile to proceed with court litigation.
Most unassisted claimants, in desperation and inexperience, will accept any offer tabled by the Road Accident Fund so that they will at least walk away with something. This is unfortunate in that had the claimant had an attorney guiding them they could have walked out with more if the Road Accident Fund had been taken to litigation or even by mere negotiation outside court between them and the claimant’s attorney.
We have had a few claimants who, after the money is finished, come back to consult on the prospects of going back to Road Accident Fund to claim for more money as the amount that was previously tabled, accepted and paid out was not adequate. These are hopeless ventures, and we strongly advise that claimants use attorneys right from the beginning to avoid loss whilst one thinks they are saving money on attorney’s fees.
Finally, due to the strict technical and legal aspects involved, an attorney is best placed to advise and drive the case/claim on behalf of the claimant. For example, an attorney would know that the claim must be lodged as soon as possible but otherwise within 3 years from date of the accident to avoid prescription, and where it is a hit and run situation then the claim must be lodged within 2 years; 120 days must pass before following ups can be done after lodging; summons must be issued within 5 years from date of accident etc.
All these considerations may most likely not be known to an unassisted claimant, thereby running the risk of discounting the claim in various respects.
The above show that an unassisted claimant may actually lose out, whilst thinking they are saving on attorneys’ fees. We strongly advise claimants to engage the services of Van Deventer and Van Deventer Attorneys, as we have so many happy claimants whom we have proactively assisted in their claims, ensuring that they get the most out of their claims.
The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. One should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this site without seeking legal or other professional advice. The contents of this site contain general information and may not reflect current legal developments or address one’s peculiar situation. We disclaim all liability for actions one may take or fail to take based on any content on this site.
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Estate Agent Training
Bond & Transfer Calculator
Get the latest updates in your email box automatically.