In another setback for Road Accident Fund, legal experts say that Monday’s ruling by the Appeals Court could prompt a driver, who claims to have been injured in a hit-and-run accident, to claim compensation from the fund even if his or her car was not hit by another vehicle.

In another setback for Road Accident Fund, legal experts say that Monday’s ruling by the Appeals Court could prompt a driver, who claims to have been injured in a hit-and-run accident, to claim compensation from the fund even if his or her car was not hit by another vehicle.

CARtoday.com reported last week that the deficit of the fund had doubled to R16,7 billion in the past four years and quoted Financial Services Board chief executive Jeff van Rooyen as saying that it was “untenable for the Fund to continue with such a deficit”.

The fund was technically insolvent and was experiencing a negative cash flow, Van Rooyen said in a report on the fund that was tabled in Parliament.

Vast sums of the fund's money are currently being spent on legal costs to resolve disputes over which motorists were at fault, and lawyers believe the new judgment will force it to use even more resources to probe claims because a driver no longer needs to prove that his or her vehicle was struck by another mode of transport.

Because the identity of a driver in a hit-and-run incident is not known, this makes it harder to verify the claim. Before yesterday's judgment, the fund could refuse to pay out claims to people who could not show their vehicle had been hit by another.

The Supreme Court of Appeal yesterday found in favour of applicant Adriaan Bezuidenhout, who appealed against a decision by the Transvaal Provincial Division refusing him permission to claim compensation for loss or damage resulting from injuries sustained in an accident on the N1 highway in February 1999.

According to , Bezuidenhout alleged the accident was caused by negligence of the driver in another vehicle that did not stop at the scene.

The appeal court “held it was unreasonable to require that there had to be a collision between two vehicles for a person to receive compensation in a hit-and-run accident, but not for claims where the identity of the second motorist was known,” the report said.

It was pointed out that while the regulations made this stipulation, no such stipulation could be found in the Road Accident Fund Act.

A lawyer for the fund said the ruling did leave it open for someone who fell asleep at the wheel to say that he had been forced off the road and claim for his injuries, but there were ways for the fund to expose swindlers.

"The person would have to be consistent with his version of the story from the very beginning in the police report, the insurance claim and in his request for compensation to the fund," he said.

"If there is any discrepancy in any of the reports he would be required to explain it. This investigation will, of course, require more resources from the fund," the source added.

Original article from Car