RAF loss of earnings claims: Latest limit and pay-outs

22 May 2024

In April 2024, a new inflation-adjusted cap on Road Accident Fund (RAF) loss of earnings claims was published.

The cap applies to claims for past and future loss of earnings due to road accident injuries.

Anyone injured in a road accident that was not solely their fault can claim for this type of compensation if their injuries impact their ability to earn income.

The most recent cap on loss of income claims

In 2008, a capped value of R160,000 a year was implemented for loss of earnings claims. However, this amount is revised quarterly to account for inflation.

As of end April 2024, the current cap on loss of earnings claims is R361 372.

Where to find the latest adjusted limit on claims

Whenever the cap value is revised, a notice specifying the new value is published in a Government Gazette notice. The notices can be tricky to locate, but are made available via the Government Printing Works website.

What determines pay-outs of loss of earnings claims?  

Loss of earnings is not always easy to quantify. It incorporates different types of loss – loss of past earnings, loss of future earnings and loss of the capacity to earn.

When determining fair compensation, loss of earnings claims are relatively straightforward. They focus on providing immediate financial relief for as long as the injuries prevent the claimant from working and earning an income.

In these cases, compensation that covers the wages or salary for that period, and takes inflation into account, forms the basis of the claim.

However, in some cases claims must take the on-going implications of loss of future income into account.

Any claim for compensation would have to include an estimate of future earnings. Claims are quantified by calculating the reduced potential earnings over an entire lifetime of work.

When there is loss of capacity to earn, hypothetical factors like the claimant’s potential for promotions had he or she been able to pursue a career can play a role in determining a fair pay-out.

Any input in the calculations is based on a claimant’s skills set, level of education and career record prior to the accident.

Determining compensation is complex. For a loss of earnings claim to succeed, the injured party must demonstrate how he or she arrived at the claimed amount.

An attorney specialising in claims against the RAF will help determine this amount.

Examples of RAF pay-outs for loss of earnings

In 2023, the Pretoria High Court ordered the RAF to pay R8,285,820 in loss of future earnings to a passenger in a vehicle involved in a collision along the M21 in Gauteng. He was a grade 12 pupil at the time of the accident.

The court found that the injuries sustained by the plaintiff, who was unemployed and not able to physically work to retirement age, impaired his capacity to earn an income.

In June 2023, the court ordered the RAF to pay R1,388,037 in past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity to a man employed as an operational director at a mining company.

The plaintiff, who was 38 at the time of the accident, was seriously injured in a head-on collision on the N1 south near Bloemfontein.

He was unable to work for six months, required time off for short, medium and long-term medical treatment, and was not expected to work to retirement age.

In a 2023 judgment, the High Court found that the injuries caused by a motor vehicle accident in Welkom affected the plaintiff’s future earning capacity.

The RAF was ordered to pay R4,564,860 in respect of past and future loss of earnings. The man, a qualified artisan rigger in the mines prior to the accident, no longer had the physical capacity to perform his job. Due to the severity of the injuries, he was expected to take early retirement.

Cape Town law firm DSC Attorneys specialises in claims against the RAF, including loss of earnings claims. The firm works on a no-win, no-fee basis.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
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