What this actually means is Government offers the victim less benefits whilst having to pay the same, if not more, to allow the RABS Administrator to balance the books.
It is generally accepted that the enactment by Parliament of laws governing personal injuries caused by or arising from motor vehicle accidents was in order to provide the road accident victim with the “widest possible protection”.
The RABS Administrator offers exactly the opposite but sugar coated with the promise of wider accessibility under a no fault system.
The Government can in principle and constitutionally speaking not plead poverty when it has a constitutional duty and has of its own accord undertaken the affording of citizens’ social security benefits.
The right to bodily integrity was identified as a constitutionally protected right by the constitutional court.
It is the right to bodily integrity and the right to maintenance which is compromised in a motor vehicle collision.
These rights cannot be compromised for the sake of expediency and in order to balance the books – especially where it is doubtful that the need to do so is entirely systemic.
It would be complicated to define benefits as there are so many variables to consider when administrating a claim on behalf of a particular road accident victim.
The RABS Administrator is able to review, revise or terminate a claimant’s entitlement to benefits at any time.
A victim will never truly be financially independent as he will be continually scrutinized by the RABS Administrator on an ongoing basis.
Children under the age of 18 and people over 60 are excluded from income benefits, it is a well-known fact that many people over the age of 60 are still economically active.
Even though a child under the age of 18 would ordinarily not qualify for this benefit, RABS will not take the child’s particular circumstances (careers of parents etc.) into account when evaluating his/her loss of income.
Benefits are forfeited the moment a beneficiary die (the result would be that the family of a beneficiary would be left destitute).
The benefits received should fall into the estate of the deceased in order to support the families of beneficiaries should they fall away.
Annual inflationary adjustments cannot be guaranteed and will be subject to affordability.
We are of the opinion that benefits should be adjusted annually in line with inflation. Funeral benefits are limited to R 10 000.00, under the RABS Administrator. However, funeral expenses are costly and in in many cases the cost of a casket alone can be in excess of R 10 000.00.
Under the current system the RAF pays for necessary funeral expenses, which if proven, may be in excess of R 10 000.00 (this includes the plot, the service and transport costs of the deceased).
According to the 2013/2014 annual report by the RAF the average funeral claim is R 11 245.00.
The report confirms that funeral expenses increased by 11% per year since 2010. The amount should be increased to a more realistic lump sum amount or funeral expenses should be paid upon proof of payment as per the invoice provided.
Income benefits will be capped and general damages be abolished under RABS to ensure affordability.
The perception exists that the current compensation system favours the rich at the expense of the poor.
Ostensibly based on this perception, the compensation of higher than average income earners have since 2008 been restricted to the national average income (currently R219 965.00 p.a.).
According to the 2013/2014 RAF annual report the average value of a personal claim was R 194 6786.00 per claim. Only 3.8% of all claims finalized exceeded R500 000,00 and in value is less than 50% of compensation paid.
There is nothing sinister in this phenomenon. It is simply a reflection of the fact that high income earners are more likely to own a motor vehicle, travel more and be exposed to motor vehicle accidents.
Why should the seriously injured (only they qualify for this level of compensation) including the quadriplegic and paraplegic road accident victims (also referred to by protagonists of RABS as instant millionaires) be made a victim twice?
Once by negligent driving and then by being discriminated against and denied the social security they as citizens are equally entitled to?
The RAF Commission found that a typical South African road accident victim likely to be a black male approximately 29 years of age who is lightly injured and if employed, earns less than R8 000,00 per month.
A sizeable section of road accident victims has no income whatsoever. Only 3% of road accident victims earned more than R270 000,00 per annum.
Pedestrians constitute 28% (second largest group after passengers) of all road accident victims.
Pedestrians are indicated as the highest socio economic risk group because of high rates of unemployment (60% unemployed) with an average income of less than R4 000,00 per month.
According to the RAF’s 2013/2014 financial report the total pay-outs on general damages has decreased over the past three financial years.
On average the amount of claims in respect of general damages has decreased by 26% per annum from 2010.
It is expected that the RAF Amendment Act will result in further decreases in general damages pay-outs making it a more affordable yet equitable, system.
Why benefits under RABS Administrator needs to be limited in any way seems to be driven by another principle other than equity.
Rehabilitation, which includes vocational rehabilitation, is apparently a primary objective of RABS.