All hope seems to be lost when a motor vehicle accident occurs.
Even more so when you are still coming to terms with the incident and the driver of the vehicle drives off.
Now you find yourself injured, standing on the side of the road, indicators flashing and you are wondering
if there is any manner in which you will be able to claim for injuries against an anonymous person.
You suddenly remember that there is a Road Accident Fund (hereinafter RAF) but can you rely on the RAF when the driver of the vehicle is unknown?
The short answer is YES.
The National Road Traffic Act, Act 93 of 1996 is applicable throughout the whole of the Republic of South Africa.
According to Section 61 of the National Road Traffic Act if an accident occurred on a public road where such accident has lead to a person's death, injury or damage to property or animal, the involved driver must act as follows:
Bring their vehicle to a full stop right after the accident has occurred.
Assess injuries (if any) that might have occurred as a result of the accident.
If it is established that a person has indeed suffered injuries, assistance can be given to the injured person if possible.
Assess to which extent damage was suffered.
The driver will have to provide the other driver (who has a substantial interest in the personal information)
with his name and address, the name and address of the owner of the vehicle if the owner and the driver are not the same person
and the registration number of the involved vehicle.
The abovementioned information as well as the person's Identity number and Driver's License need to be given to a police officer at the scene of the accident or at the police station within 24 hours. However, if the person is not able to provide the information within the set time-frame due to injury, it should be done as soon as reasonably practical or possible.
Refrain from consuming any drugs or liquor, in the event that injury occurred or the person suffers from shock unless instructed
by a medical pratitioner and if the person has indeed complied with the abovementioned provisions.
The vehicles involved in the accident may not be removed unless removal of the said vehicle was authorized by a traffic officer or when the position of the vehicle obstructs a public road as a whole. However, if obstruction does occur, the position of the vehicle
needs to be marked and only thereafter may it be removed to allow for the normal flow of traffic.
Owing to the aforementioned provisions, failure by a driver to act as stated or fleeing the accident scene, is a contravention of legislation and is thus illegal which is punishable by ways of a fine or imprisonment.
Other relevant legislation include the Road Accident Fund Act, Act 56 of 1996. Section 17(1)(b) states the Road Accident Fund will be obligated to compensate a person for any loss (such as injury to himself or the death of another person) or damage occurring from a motor vehicle accident, even where the identity of the owner or driver of the vehicle is unknown.
A claim can be instituted against the RAF within a two (2) year period, which period is calculated from the date of the accident (or when the cause of action arose). A further three (3) years are allowed to finalise the claim.
The claim process and relevant forms are available on the RAF website to assist the general public to institute a claim against the RAF.
It is however advisable to consult with an attorney to assist with the process and to ensure legal compliance.