Medical practitioners, psychologists, occupational therapists and other medical experts who, along with lawyers, provide professional services to Road Accident Fund (RAF) victims say thousands of applications for relief are piling up in the courts, threatening their businesses and leaving victims destitute, reports the Cape Argus.
Personal Injury Plaintiff Lawyers Association (Pipla) chairperson, Advocate Justin Erasmus, said as much as the RAF deflected blame, the reality was that claims were piling up and were just not being paid out, affecting the most vulnerable people – road accident victims. He said medical experts had also been hard hit by the twin forces of RAF non-payments and Covid-19, potentially making their practices financially unsustainable.
Erasmus said a recent survey conducted among occupational therapists (89) and industrial psychologists (21) it was found that 98% of respondents indicated they could not sustain their practices financially under current measures implemented by the RAF. Not a single respondent had indicated that their practice was financially sustainable with the current non-payment situation by the RAF.
Occupational therapist Anne Reynolds said the situation had been compounded by the chaos that was caused by the termination of the RAF’s panel of attorneys.
“Reports and joint minutes have not been finalised as a result, new appointments have not been made and/or court dates have been delayed. All of this has had a significant impact on the victims of road accidents, as well as the experts (both defendant and plaintiff) whose valuable expertise is required to ensure fair and equitable settlements of road accident victims’ claims.”
“The real losers will unfortunately be the accident victims at the end of the day. With no experienced experts to assess the claims, the likelihood is that claims will be under settled with little provision for adequate funds to cover medical costs and aids to ensure an optimal quality of life.”
Erasmus said the situation had become a complete travesty, and that attorneys were not the only ones complaining. ‘Recently, the Private Ambulances Association issued a memorandum to the RAF threatening to withdraw its ambulances belonging to more than 25 emergency medical services if the entity did not honour the R10m still outstanding.’
De Broglio Attorneys said they had been working with the RAF for the past eight years and for the first time this year they actually felt scared for their clients. ‘E-mails are not answered or acknowledged, and phone calls are simply not picked up. Staff in the costs department say they don’t even have paper to print on.’
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