Road accidents involving food delivery drivers are far more common than you can imagine, with most cases reported to have resulted in serious injuries and death. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, with most people choosing to stay indoors, the food delivery industry expanded and presented more opportunities for players in the industry. It also created job opportunities in South Africa for both locals and immigrants. However, the successes in the industry have come with a surge in road accident statistics in the country.
It is trite that the function of the Road Accident Fund (the RAF) is to compensate for loss or damage wrongfully caused by the driving of motor vehicles (section 3 of the Road Accident Fund Act 56 of 1996 (“the Act)). If you were injured in a road accident whilst working as a food delivery driver, and the accident was not your fault, you can lodge a claim with the RAF. This is crucial as due to the nature of their work, many scooter drivers struggle with insurance claims and compensation enjoyed by other employers if they are involved in accidents.
The courts have adjudicated upon many cases involving scooter drivers’ accidents and such cases have proven that scooter drivers are one of the most vulnerable road users. For example, a plaintiff scooter driver testified that “he was on route to deliver a pizza on his scooter on the date of the accident…as he was nearing a slight curve in the road, he heard the engine of a vehicle roaring behind him. In the curve, the vehicle sped past him, forcing him to move further to the left of the road…he had no choice but to steer his scooter onto the gravel verge of the road…the plaintiff pushed out his right foot at which point the scooter went over him.” (Taylor v The Road Accident Fund 2021 JDR 2393 (ECG)).
The reverse is also possible for victims of accidents caused by scooter drivers. Scooter drivers can also be negligent by distracting other drivers and causing them to lose control of their vehicles or even collide with pedestrians. From the definition of the term “motor vehicle” for the purposes of third-party litigation under the RAF Act, it is apparent that a motorcycle or a scooter qualifies as a motor vehicle. The definition of a motor vehicle accident is found in section 1 of the Act and is defined as any vehicle designed or adapted for propulsion or haulage on a road by means of fuel, gas, or electricity.
Depending on the nature of the claim, both the scooter drivers and other road users can claim from the RAF for General damages for pain and suffering; past and future hospital and medical expenses; past and future loss of income/ earnings capacity. Dependants of deceased victims can claim for past and future loss of support and funeral expenses.