How Long Do I Have to Make an Injury Claim After an Accident?
After an accident, you will probably be interested in taking legal action in order to receive financial compensation for your injuries. In order to start a valid personal injury claim, you must file your legal claim within a specific time period, or your right to seek benefits may be permanently lost.
In today’s post, NOVA Injury Law will explain how long Atlantic Canadians have to file an injury claim so that they do not miss out on their right to seek the financial compensation they deserve.
What is a Limitation Period?
People have a right to receive financial compensation for the injuries and damages they sustain in an accident. However, you are only eligible to file a legal action for a two-year period of time after your accident occurs. There is essentially a “time restriction” on your ability to take legal action.
These time restrictions are known as limitation periods. As a general rule, when pursuing a car accident or personal injury claim in Atlantic Canada, you have two years from the day the accident occurred or was “discovered,” to file your personal injury claim. This general rule can be found in the following pieces of legislation, depending on the Atlantic Canadian province in which you live:
- Nova Scotia: The general limitation period can be found in paragraph 8(1)(a) of the Nova Scotia’s Limitations of Actions Act.
- New Brunswick: New Brunswick’s general limitation period is listed in paragraph 5(1)(a) of the Limitations of Actions Act.
- Prince Edward Island: Prince Edward Island’s general car accident limitation period is described in paragraph 2(1)(d) of the Statute of Limitations.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: The general limitation period for car accident claims is covered in subsection 5(a) of Newfoundland’s Limitations Act.
What Limitation Period Applies to My Case?
The general limitation period is subject to exceptions and additional rules that vary from province to province. Some of the common issues are covered below.
Discovery refers to the date that you became aware that you were injured in an accident. When pursuing a personal injury claim in Atlantic Canada, you have two years from the day the accident was “discovered” to file your accident claim. For most claims, “discovery” occurs on the day the accident actually happened. However, depending on the specific circumstances of your claim, this date could be delayed. It may be the case that you were not aware that you had a legal claim, and the limitation period would begin running at the date of this “discovery.”
Exceptions to The Standard Limitation Period for Personal Injury Cases
Your limitation period may depend on factors such as, who you are suing, your age and other conditions. In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador, if you are younger than 19 years old when the accident occurs, your two-year time limit does not begin until you reach the age of majority. The same is true for Prince Edward Island, except the age of majority is 18 years old. Similarly, if you are unable to bring a claim as a result of your physical, mental or psychological condition, you may be provided with an exemption from the two-year limitation period.
Notice of Intended Action
There are additional rules that must be followed depending on who you are bringing the action against. In some cases, the law requires you to provide formal notice to the party in which you want to bring the action against before you can file a valid lawsuit. This is what is referred to as “notice of intended action.”
For example, if you are bringing a claim against the provincial government or other Provincial Agent in Nova Scotia, the Proceedings against the Crown Act requires you to give a minimum 60 days’ notice before filing your claim. Likewise, if you are suing a Municipal Agent, the Municipal Government Act requires you to provide the municipality with at least 30 days’ notice before you file your lawsuit. Note that the limitation period for suing Municipal Agents is limited to one year as opposed to the general two-year period.
Ultimate Limitation Period
The Ultimate Limitation Period is the absolute longest amount of time you have to bring a claim, even if you were exempt from the general limitation period. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the Ultimate Limitation Period is 15 years from the day that the accident occurred. In Newfoundland and Labrador, this period is 30 years from the accident’s occurrence, and in Prince Edward Island there is no Ultimate Limitation Period. The ultimate limitation period applies even if you did not discover the accident.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer?
While the legislation limiting actions in your province can provide you with helpful information about what is relevant to your situation, the rules and timelines for pursuing compensation can be confusing and complicated for most people, especially when they are dealing with a crisis.
Making a mistake in this process could put you at risk at missing your limitation period and having your claim considered invalid. Further, the limitation period for making your claim does not stop even if you have told the at-fault driver’s insurance company about your injury claim. Active settlement negotiations do not stop the time limit from running.
Speaking with a personal injury lawyer that you can rely on is the best way to figure out what limitation applies to your case and when you need to take action. Filing your lawsuit with the court is the only way to protect your claim from expiring. Seeking trusted legal advice regarding your potential injury claim as soon as reasonably possible is the best way to ensure you are not barred from seeking the compensation you need.
Consulting with a lawyer early on in the process will not only help you stay within your limitation period for filing a claim, but it can also give you peace of mind and alleviate some of the stress you will be dealing with post-accident. You can learn more about the limitation period applicable to your case through our free Case Review process. Call us now to book your free Case Review.
What Happens If I’ve Missed the Deadline?
If you’ve missed the time limit to sue for your personal injury claim you should speak to a lawyer immediately. Your claim is not automatically lost. In some cases, you will be able to salvage your legal claim by making a court motion.
Even if the applicable limitation period for your case has expired, you may be allowed to advance your personal injury claim if there are equitable grounds to do so. In Nova Scotia, the court will consider the hardships you have experienced, the strength of your case and if there are any alternative remedies available to you. The possibility of having your limitation period extended is only available to personal injury claims, and you must be within two-years after the expiry of the relevant limitation period of your case. The extension does not apply to the 15-year Ultimate Limitation Period.
What Can I Do to Support My Claim?
If you or a loved one have been in an accident, it will always be best to learn about your options with a Nova Scotia personal injury lawyer. The best lawyer for you will be someone who knows the law, has an interest in your case, and can help you meet your limitation period. Jeff Mitchell’s practice is focused on helping car accident and personal injury victims. Therefore, his goal is to ensure that claims are properly assessed, and that each injury victim is fairly compensated for their injuries.
We take our responsibility to our clients seriously, because we understand that our clients depend on us when they need us most. Focus on your recovery and wellbeing and let our experienced lawyers help. We will make sure your claim meets any and all deadlines. Call NOVA Injury Law today for FREE CASE REVIEW at 1-800-262-8104.