What is the Small Claims Court Statute of Limitations?
Limitation periods apply to all different kinds of claims, even ones that are brought to Small Claims Court.
If you are pursuing a claim in small claims court, you must file your legal claim within a specific period of time, or your right to seek financial compensation or other remedies may be permanently lost.
In today’s post, NOVA Injury Law will explain how long Atlantic Canadians have to file a claim in small claims court, so that they do not miss out on their right to seek the financial compensation they deserve.
What is the Nova Scotia Small Claims Court?
In the Small Claims Court of Nova Scotia, you can make a claim for up to $25,000 (not including interest and legal costs) and/or the return of goods.
Small Claims Court is typically a more timely, cost-effective and less formal avenue for the resolution of certain types of claims. The Small Claims Court is a potential avenue to bring forth a claim for personal injuries, property damage, breach of contract, and unpaid loans or rent, amongst other things.
The Small Claims Court does have certain restrictions, such as a limit of $100 for “general damages,” also known as non-economic damages, for things like pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life. This amount is still included in the $25,000 limit.
Furthermore, certain claims are excluded from the Small Claims Court in Nova Scotia, including claims that are related to:
- Land Ownership
- Wills and estates
- Malicious prosecution
- Wrongful imprisonment
- Defamation (libel and slander)
Although generally similar, the monetary limits and other restrictions on Small Claims Court vary from province to province. Some information will be available online, but you should speak with an injury lawyer if you are uncertain as to whether you can or should take your claim to Small Claims Court. If you are looking for more advice on small claims, call us now to book a free case consultation.
What is a Limitation Period?
Limitation periods are “time restrictions” on your ability to take legal action against someone, as they prevent claimants from starting a lawsuit after a certain time period has passed.
The purpose of limitation periods is to give the claimant (person with a legal claim), a reasonable amount to time in which they can sue, but at the same time respect the defendant’s (person being sued) right to certainty and closure about potential claims.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
In Nova Scotia, the Limitations of Actions Act, also known as the Statute of Limitations is the legislation that governs limitation periods for claims meant to remedy injury, loss or damage that resulted from something someone did (an act), or failed to do (an omission). This includes personal injury, medical malpractice, and breach of contract claims.
As per the Act, the general limitation period you have to bring a legal claim in Nova Scotia is two years from the day on which the claim was discovered. However, if you were younger than 19 years old when your claim was discovered, your two-year time limit does not start running until you reach the age of majority.
Nova Scotia also has a 15-year Ultimate Limitation Period, which is the absolute longest amount of time you have in order to bring a claim. However, there are certain types of claims that are not subject to any limitation periods, such as sexual misconduct and sexual abuse claims.
Should I go to Small Claims Court?
Small Claims Court is a great option for many different situations, but it may not be the best avenue for every claim. Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to pursue a claim, and where that claim is pursued will always be yours to make. However, the legal system can be confusing and depending on the nature of your claim, it may be difficult to decide how to pursue it.
Although the best way to determine if Small Claims Court is the right choice for you is to speak to a lawyer about your circumstances directly, we can provide some factors to consider before you decide to pursue your claim in Small Claims Court.
Cost of Small Claims Court
There will always be costs involved when pursuing a legal claim, including costs to start your claim.
To bring forward a claim in Small Claims Court, you must first to complete a “Notice of Claim” form that will tell the court who you are, who you are suing, what happened and what you are asking for. After you complete this form, it will cost you a filing fee to file it with the court. The amount of the fee will depend on the specifics of your claim.
The fee for filing your Notice of Claim varies depending on how much your claim is worth and whether you are making a claim for the recovery of personal property only.
Serving the defendant with your claim, hiring witnesses and copying or certifying documents are just a few examples of additional expenses that can occur in Small Claims Court.
Before pursuing your claim independently, you should consider these costs and if there are any other options available for financing your claim.
Reaching an Agreement with the Other Party
Going to court is not the only way that you can receive compensation for injuries and losses caused by the fault of another party.
You have the option to negotiate an agreement with the other party. This is what is often referred to as an out-of-court settlement. For personal injury claims, approximately 95% are settled out of court.
Even after you’ve filed your claim in court, you still have the option of coming to an agreement with the other party. However, if you are unsure about what your claim is worth, you should be careful not to settle for an amount that is less than what you deserve or what a judge would award. Your case could potentially be worth more than you realize and even more than what you could be awarded in Small Claims Court.
Is it too Late to File a Claim?
As mentioned previously, the time available for you to start a legal claim is not infinite. Although we have provided some guidance about limitation periods for making a small claim in Nova Scotia, the law is always evolving.
The limitation period that applies to your claim may not be reflected in this blog, or it may have changed since the time of publication. Speaking with a 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 claim with the court is the only way to protect your claim from expiring. Consulting with a lawyer early on in the process can help you stay within your limitation period for filing a claim.
If you have missed the deadline 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.
How can NOVA Injury Law Help?
Whether or not you choose to go to Small Claims Court, seeking professional legal advice before making a decision about your claim is a good decision. It will always be best to learn about your options with someone who knows the law, has an interest in your case and is someone you can trust.
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. Avoid making the mistake of undervaluing your claim or missing your limitation period by contacting NOVA Injury Law today.
We take our responsibility to our clients seriously because we understand that our clients depend on us when they need us most. If you want to know more about Small Claims Court or the Statute of Limitations, we are here to help. Contact NOVA Injury Law today for FREE CASE REVIEW by calling 1-800-262-8104.