The Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) – Latest Developments
This article covers RABS latest developments, highlighting some key concerns and challenges that need to be addressed.
The Department of Transport (DoT) presented a third quarter performance report to the Parliamentary Committee on Transport on the 21st of February 2017.
The RABS Bill has subsequently been approved by Cabinet on the 29th of March 2017 to be submitted to Parliament.
During the DoT briefing presented to Nedlac (National Economic Development and Labour Council) there was disagreement on the following Sections of the RABS Bill. It is unclear whether these issues was addressed prior to submitting the RABS Bill to Cabinet as the amended Bill, had at the time of this article, not been published yet:
- Section 35 (3):
Clarity was sought on the basis to be used where a beneficiary cannot prove income.
- Section 36(5)(c)(i):
Excluding the beneficiary from claiming temporary income within the first 60 days after the accident.
- Section 36(5)(iii):
Excluding a beneficiary from claiming temporary income prior to reaching the age of 18.
- Section 36(7):
Temporary support beneficiary not entitled to inflationary adjustments.
- Section 37(1)(a):
A long-term income benefit only payable if submitted in the manner set out in the rules which include details of earnings earned subsequent to the road accident.
- Section 37(1)(b)(ii):
In the case of an injured person who did not receive a temporary income support benefit – reasons required for his or her inability to earn an income from either the injured person or someone with knowledge of the victim’s inability to earn an income.
- Section 37(5)(a):
Basis upon which Administrator is to determine an amount that would approximately represent the victim’s annual post-accident earning capacity.
- Section 37(7)(c)(ii):
Long term benefit excludes any period before a victim reaches the age of 18.
- Section 37(8)(c):
The Administrator may accept a claim for a long-term income benefit subject to the victim participating in a vocational training programme.
- Section 38:
Conditions prescribed by Administrator to participate in a vocational training programme.
- Section 39(14):
A beneficiary of a family support benefit is not entitled to inflationary adjustments.
- Section 41(b)(i):
Any benefit may at any time be suspended if the beneficiary refuses to provide further medical reports or to submit to further medical assessments;
- Section 41(b)(iii):
Any benefit may at any time be suspended if the beneficiary refuses to provide or participate in an individual treatment or rehabilitation plan or vocational training programme.
- Section 48(1):
The Administrator shall accept or reject a claim within 180 days of submission of the claim.
- Section 48(2):
A claim shall bear interest at the prescribed rate from expiry of 180 days after submission of a claim.
- Section 49(4):
An appeal must be heard within 180 days after the appeal was lodged and the appellant must be informed of the outcome in writing;
- Section 50:
The driver’s obligation to provide the Administrator with details of the accident within 30 days of being in a position to comply;
- Section 52:
Exclusion of the Administrator or official’s liability in respect of anything done or omitted in the exercise of any power or performance imposed under the Act, unless intentional wrongdoing is proved.
Even though these issues are worth a second glance more important challenges were not addressed, being:
- Accessibility: with no financial support victims would be left unable to engage the Administrator;
- Affordability: it is impossible to suggest RABS as a cheaper option without knowing at what tariff medical care will be offered;
- Costing model: how the Dot intends to finance a no fault benefit scheme on top of an already “insolvent” RAF is unclear – the taxpayer will in all probability be charged a substantial premium to sustain both the RABS and the RAF at the same time;
- How the RABS Administrator intends to achieve their rehabilitating mandate without the existence of the National Health Insurance (NHI) or relevant infrastructure, is still unclear;
- The DoT is mute on the question of coping with the additional work load of a no fault system coupled with the already despondent RAF administration;
- Victims being denied access to courts;
- Various constitutional issues;
- The exclusion of certain classes of victims from claiming from the RABS Administrator.
Without also addressing these and other important issues that flow from them, RABS will be destined to fail.