The new Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) is currently before parliament.
The Bill is proposed to replace the current fault-based system which was administered by the Road Accident Fund.
The implementation of the RABS aims to both reduce costs and standardize payouts. This may sound all fair and well on paper, but it could spell disaster for South African motorists. Here is why;
Under RABS, accidents will be treated on a no-fault basis.
A no-fault scheme means that any drivers who can prove they have been in a motor vehicle accident will be able to submit a claim to RABS.
What this means, essentially, is that all road accident victims will be able to receive a benefit even if the accident was your fault.
The Biggest Problems With The Road Accident Benefit Scheme
Although a no-fault system could reduce administration, we’ll see an increase in the volume of claims and the amount of compensation to be paid out. As a result, the value of the benefits will have to be reduced in order to keep the plan sustainable.
The scheme is based on the same model as that of the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner (WCC). Let’s say you’re injured on duty. You’re chopping carrots in a restaurant and you accidentally lose a finger. A claim could then be lodged with the WCC, where your employer pleads your cause on your behalf.
Under RABS, however, you won’t have any representation and you’ll have to lodge the claim yourself. You won’t be able to recover your full loss and the compensation / benefits payable to you will be decreased. There’s no long term financial security offered. All benefits could be withdrawn or reduced at any time by the Administrator.
As it stands under the RAF fault-based system, if you were to cause an accident then you’re not permitted to claim. Victims who do qualify then receive substantially higher payments.
This may seem unfair to those who genuinely make small errors on the road. Maybe the clutch slipped and you ended up bumping the car in front of you. In that light, the RABS may be helpful and seem reasonable.
However, this brings us to the biggest, most disturbing problem of them all.
A person driving under the influence will have the same rights as you. They will also be able to claim for damages after they cause a huge accident and leave you paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of your life.
Thanks For Nothing, RABS
- You’ll have no right to approach a court, should you be unsatisfied with the benefits on offer.
- The RABS will pay medical and healthcare service providers directly. This means that, should you be injured, you no longer have a choice in which medical practitioners or care givers you want to use.
- The RABS will take over all existing and future RAF claims, as well as the current RAF staff.
- Under the current RAF, in severe cases you may have an attorney champion your cause for you. This right falls away under the RABS.
- No more lump sum payment settlements made to those who have experienced severe injuries or damages. The RABS will make monthly payments, with a maximum pay out of R44 000, annually. Consider the fact that you may lose a limb or the ability to work. R44 000 is poor compensation.
- These payments will not increase in line with inflation. They will also stop the moment you die, leaving your dependants vulnerable and possibly doomed to live in a refrigerator box under a bridge somewhere.
- The RAF takes about 120 days to settle your claims. The RABS will take double the time , and even then, benefits aren’t a sure thing.
News24 reported that a Durban Regional Court magistrate has given a drunk driver a sentence of 20 years in prison for causing an accident in which three people died.
Under the RABS, people who show a complete disregard for the rules of the road might be able to claim and receive compensation.
Perhaps, instead of all the inherently crooked bureaucracy, Government should be focusing on better enforcement of traffic laws.