How long do I have to claim?

A claim not instituted in time will fall away or lapse
(Lawyers refer to this rule as PRESCRIPTION)

General Principles
A summons, setting out your claim against the wrongdoer must be served on the wrongdoer (delivered to) within 3 years of the date on which the damage was caused.

If you are mentally handicapped (or are considered incapable of managing your own affairs) your claim will not fall away due to time delay for as long as the condition persists.

If you are a minor, or the incident happened when you were a minor, then your claim has to be submitted by the latest of the following:

  • within 3 years of the incident; or
  • within 1 year of you becoming of legal capacity, which means before your 19th birthday.

In some instances the prescription date may be later than the dates indicated above e.g. if the harm only occurs later, as in the event of death some months after the incident.

Road Accident Fund
Your claim must be submitted to the Road Accident Fund within 3 years of the date of accident.

Legal proceedings (court summons) may commence no sooner than 120 days after submission of the claim but within 5 years of the date of collision.

If you are a minor, or the incident happened when you were a minor, then your claim has to be submitted within 3 years according to principles illustrated above, and legal proceedings must commence within 5 years of your becoming of legal capacity (ie. The claim must be submitted to the RAF before your 21st and summons must have been served on the RAF before your 23rd birthday).

Claims against the Government / State
If you have a claim against an organ of state, in terms of the Institution of Legal proceedings against certain Organs of State Act, you must:

  • give notice in writing of your intention to institute legal action against the state organ (e.g. Minister of Health and Welfare, Minister of Police) within 6 months of the claim arising. The notice must be delivered to the person by hand or by email or fax; and then, then after 90 days after the notice;
  • Institute legal proceedings against the relevant state organ within 3 years of the claim arising.

If you don’t give the required 6 months’ notice and you have good reasons for not giving proper notice, you can apply to the court for condonation. This means you ask the court to allow you to continue with the claim even though it has officially prescribed/lapsed because you had good reasons for failing to give notice.

Insurance Claims
Most insurance policies are worded in such a way that once a claim is rejected or repudiated, you, the insured, will have a very short period of time (most often 90 days) within which to commence legal proceedings against the insurer.

Contact Details

Phone Phone: (012) 809 1588
Fax Fax: (0) 86 603 0097
WWW Link Website:
Address: Block 2, Lombardy Business Park,
Cnr Cole & Graham Rds, Lombardy , Pretoria