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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is an Undertaking?

an Undertaking is a contract between the claimant and the Road Accident Fund, in terms of which the Road Accident Fund will reimburse the claimant for reasonable future medical expenses the claimant may incur due to injuries sustained in the motor vehicle accident, on submission of acceptable proof.

Road accident fund contact details

Head office : 38 Ida Street, Menlo Park, Pretoria

Private Bag x2003, Menlyn,0063

Tel : 012-4295000 / Fax : 012 – 429 5500

Call Centre: 0860 23 55 23

www.raf.co.za

What is a contingency fees agreement?

The Contingency Fees Act 66 of 1997 makes it possible for an attorney to conclude a  Contingency Fees agreement with his/her client subject to strict compliance with the Act.

The Contingency Fees Act provides for two types of Contingency Fees agreements being:

  • Section 2(1)(a) The attorney will be entitled to his/her normal fees for services, as agreed, only if the client is successful, without any statutory cap being applied;
  • Section 2(1)(b) The attorney will be entitled to a normal fee and a success fee (limited to 25% or double the normal fees whichever is lesser) in case of the matter being successful.

Expenses are excluded from both calculations with regard to Fees.

Benefits of a contingency fees agreement

The use of a Contingency Fees Agreement enables financially challenged individuals to engage the services of an attorney for legal assistance. Court procedures are made possible without having the resources to pay the attorney’s fees and costs.

A Contingency Fees Agreement generally entails that the attorney carries the financial burden of all the costs during the duration of the proceedings up until the finalization.

When a matter is successfully finalized the attorney will provide a statement of account which is deducted from the proceeds of the claim as agreed upon in terms of the Contingency Fees Agreement.

Important documentation in road accident fund matters:

  • SAPS Case Number and Name of relevant Police Station;
  • Names and contact details of traffic officers attending a scene;
  • Copy of Identity document;
  • Copy of birth certificate in matters where children are involved;
  • Salary advices for a period of at least 3 months before the accident;
  • Full particulars of employers;
  • Details of all treating doctors and/or medical personnel;
  • Details of any witnesses;
  • Photos of the scene of the accident;
  • Photos of the vehicles involved;
  • Photos of visible injuries;
  • Specified funeral expenses accounts;
  • Specified medical expenses;
  • Medical Aid Undertaking where applicable;
  • Keep a file folder handy in which to collect all medical expenses and documents related to the accident.

What can you do if you feel that your attorney has charged too much?

Review your fee agreement and the bills your attorney has sent you. All charges should be consistent with your agreement. If you have questions about particular charges, ask your attorney. Frequently, charges make more sense after a brief explanation. 

If you can't resolve your questions regarding fees and charges with your attorney you may want to have your bill reviewed by an attorney organization that will evaluate it for fairness.

If you lose a case that your attorney said was a sure winner?

Any attorney who says that a case is a sure winner and cannot be lost should be steered clear of.

While you can be sure that most attorneys will do all they can to try and win your case, an honest attorney, no matter how good they are, has to admit that there is always a chance of a lawsuit or case being lost.

However, If you do feel that your attorney may guilty of malpractice in the handling of your case, you may have recourse with the relevant law society. 

Remember though, that you will probably have to retain the services of another attorney, should you wish to sue for damages.

What can you do if you feel your attorney has improperly handled your case?

It is part of the function of the different law societies to protect the public against unprofessional and irresponsible members of the attorney's profession. The law societies set a high standard of professional conduct for their members to adhere to and are prepared to investigate any complaints levelled at it's members. 

Attorneys are bound by a strict professional code and are proud of the high standards they set themselves and the low incidence of disciplinary action that has been required by the various provincial law societies. 

Confirm which provincial law society you need to contact. The various law societies contact details can be found by going to their websites, details of which can be found from the links on the right hand side. 

Before going to the council confirm that your complaint is valid by going through the facts. It is often a lack of communication or a misunderstanding that leads to complaints being lodged. Contact your attorney, either by visiting him/her or send them a letter (registered post preferably) regarding your query. Ask for a full report regarding your enquiry, as an attorney is obliged to report to their client on the progress in a matter. Give them a reasonable amount of time to reply before contacting the law society. 

Your complaint should be submitted in the form of an affidavit. This can be done by taking your statement to a commissioner of oaths, a police officer or another attorney. Examples of forms that can be used, can be found on some of the law societies web sites. 

Links to these websites can be found here www.attorneys.co.za//law_links.asp 

Please remember that while the various Councils have the power to ensure that attorneys observe proper standards of professional conduct they do not have the power to order an attorney to pay compensation. You would need to consult another attorney about taking your grievance to a court of law. This was only a rough guide as to what your options are and further details can be found at the web sites of the various law societies

What can you do if you are unhappy with your attorney?

If you are unhappy with your attorney you have the right to fire him or her at any time. However, remember that your attorney is entitled to payment for any work they may have done up to the point of their dismissal. They are also entitled to keep any files pertaining to the case they worked on until payment for their services has been made. 

The judge will ask you for the reason you dismissed your attorney/ advocate. Should you dismiss your attorney/ advocate close to a trial date and you haven't made alternative arrangements as to representation, the judge may, if he thinks it is a delaying tactic, force you to represent yourself.

What is attorney-client privilege?

When you speak with an attorney about a legal matter, your communications with that attorney are privileged. This means that subject to some very limited exceptions, and unless you grant permission, your attorney can't disclose to a third party any information that you provided.

What is an attorneys obligations towards you?

When you speak with an attorney about a legal matter, your communications with that attorney are privileged. This means that subject to some very limited exceptions, and unless you grant permission, your attorney can't disclose to a third party any information that you provided.

What is the road accident fund?

The Road Accident Fund in South Africa, is a state insurer established by statute. It provides insurance cover to all drivers of motor vehicles in South Africa in respect of liability incurred or damage caused as a result of a traffic collision. Liability incurred in relation to property damage is excluded from cover.

Raf act

  • The Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996 came into operation on the 1 May 1997 (OLD ACT)
  • The Road Accident Fund Amendment Act, 2005 came into operation on the 1 August 2008 (NEW ACT )
  • The object of both Acts is to pay compensation in accordance with applicable legislations for personal loss or damage wrongfully caused by the driving of a motor vehicle;
  • The MVA system indemnifies the driver/owner of a motor vehicle against liability incurred as the result of the loss/damaged wrongfully caused to another person in road accidents.

Who is entitled to make a claim?

The following are entitled to make a claim:

  • A person who sustained a bodily injury in the accident (except a driver who was the sole cause of the accident);
  • A dependent of a deceased breadwinner;
  • A close relative of the deceased who paid for the funeral; and
  • A claimant under the age of 18 years must be assisted by a parent, legal guardian or curator ad litem.

Prescription of road accident fund claims:

In respect of a motor vehicle of which the driver or owner is identified a claim for compensation in respect of loss or damage (bodily injury) from the driving of a motor vehicle, must be lodged with the Road Accident Fund within three years from the date on which the accident occurred.

Once a claim has been lodged, a summons must be issued within five years from the date on which the accident occurred.

In respect of a motor vehicle of which the driver or owner is unidentified a claim for compensation in respect of loss or damage (bodily injury) from the driving of a motor vehicle, must be lodged with the Road Accident Fund within two years from the date on which the accident occurred.

Once a claim has been lodged, a summons must be issued within five years from the date on which the accident occurred.

After the lodgment of a claim, a summons may not be served before the expiry of 120 days.