Collect as much evidence as possible. Witness statements, medical reports, police reports, invoices and statements relating to your injuries.
Once all the evidence/supporting documents are ready, it’s necessary to complete and submit the a RAF claim form. Once the claim has been submitted, it’s registered on the official RAF claim system.
At this stage, the RAF has 120 days in which to investigate your claim. They may request additional information or require that you visit a doctor or specialist they appoint for an assessment of your injuries. In practice, the RAF seldom offers a settlement or resolves a claim within the allotted period. As a result, it can take weeks or even months longer for a case to progress to the next step.
If you haven’t received a settlement offer once the 120-day period has elapsed, your attorney may issue the RAF with a summons stating that you’re pursuing the matter in court. The RAF is then compelled to make an offer or defend its decision in court. Upon reaching this step of the process, you’ll want an experienced personal injury lawyer in your corner. If the case does go to trial, you’ll need expert medical testimony to back up your claim. A good lawyer specialising in RAF claims will have access to the right experts, as well as the appropriate legal know-how and experience.
Once it’s clear that the matter is to be pursued in court, a trial date must be set. This can be very time-consuming, potentially taking many months. In South Africa, each division of the High Court has different pre-trial procedures to be complied with before a matter will be considered “trial ready”. Only then will a trial date be allocated. Sometimes, it may be necessary to secure multiple trial dates – for example, if you have to go to court first to establish the liability or negligence aspect of a claim and thereafter the amount of compensation due. What usually happens at this point is that the two parties – aided by medical and legal experts – try to negotiate the best possible settlement out of court. If a settlement can’t be reached, the trial takes place and the claim is finalised. The trial itself may be drawn out, depending on the availability of key experts.