When you’ve been injured in an accident it’s important to move quickly. You don’t have an unlimited amount of time to make your claims.
If you allow the limitation period to run out you won’t be able to make a claim or a case at all. In fact, the Limitation Act is so absolute in personal injury cases that “running down the clock” is a common insurance industry tactic.
What is a Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the legal term for the maximum amount parties in a dispute have to get the court systems involved before they can no longer make a claim.
In Alberta, the statute of limitations is set by the Alberta Limitations Act.
What Edmonton Residents Need to Know About the Limitations Act
The most important thing to know is the Act gives you two years after the date that you knew or should have known, that there was an accident, and that the accident led directly to an injury.
Note this isn’t always the exact date of the accident. For example, if we can prove that you were in a coma for a year then the clock doesn’t actually start running until you come out of the coma, as you were insensate and didn’t know the accident had occurred. In fact, the Act specifically suspends limitation periods during any period of time that the person is under disability, but does place the burden of proof on you to prove that you were under disability.
There is a ten-year limitation period that covers contract issues on real property that does not apply to personal injury cases.
Exceptions to the Limitations Act
There is no limitation period on injury claims arising from sexual assault or battery.
In addition, the limitations period is suspended during any period in which the claimant was a minor. If someone hits a 7 year-old with their car while that child was riding a bicycle and the parents don’t make a claim on the child’s behalf then the child can come back and press a claim when they are an adult.
However, the defendant can force the issue by delivering a notice to proceed to the guardian of the minor and to the Public Trustee, which prompts the Public Trustee to evaluate the case and the likelihood that the guardian will act in the best interests of the minor in regards to the claim.
One other exception worth knowing is the Municipal Governments Act. This exception actually shortens the limitation period. In most cases you have very little time to act at all. For example, in Edmonton you must submit a claim within ten days to begin the process. You get two years, not to start a lawsuit, but to settle your claim with the Claims Management Section. If you think your case may involve city property, city workers, or city transit, reach out to a lawyer to get your case started immediately because you have no time to waste.
Claims for Contribution
If you were injured by multiple parties then you only have to sue one of them, but if you do the other party can sue the party that wasn’t held accountable. As a plaintiff you want to be aware of this because if you wait a long time then defendant #1 will claim they didn’t have time to serve a claim on defendant #2, who became statute-barred, and that your own actions contributed to this problem.
This could lead to you losing all or part of your claim on appeal.
In general, it is best to work quickly and to work with a lawyer who will find every last party who might be held accountable in your personal injury case. All of those parties should be sued so that you get your best chance of getting 100% compensation. The details of who pays what will get worked out during either the settlement or the trial, but it pays to cover all your bases.
Why Waiting Rarely Helps Your Case
The longer you wait, the weaker your position becomes.
- Evidence can become stale.
- Witnesses can drop out of contact.
- Your own memory of events won’t be as fresh.
- The longer you wait to talk to a lawyer the more opportunities you give the insurance company to lie to you, or trick you. In reality your lawyer could have been handling the insurance companies on your behalf the entire time.
- Waiting longer tends to put you under more financial stress and strain, which can mean it’s harder to hold out for all the money you’re entitled to, or that you deserve.
You don’t have to guess whether your case is strong enough to pursue. Any personal injury lawyer will review your case and render an opinion about whether you have a strong enough claim to pursue compensation.
Thus, it is usually more beneficial to call a lawyer and start the process almost as soon as you are lucid and medically capable of doing so.
You’ll have a far more pleasant experience if you do. Insurance companies are more likely to skip the insulting low initial offer, won’t try to lie to you about whether getting a lawyer will hurt your case, will not be able to pressure you into signing over medical records that they have no right to, and won’t have the opportunity to push you into making a recorded statement. Hiring a lawyer right away tells insurance companies that you know your rights and you mean business.
Need Help With Your Injury Case?
Most of our lawyers have over 2 decades of experience with complex personal injury cases such as car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall cases, and other cases where someone else’s negligence causes good people to get hurt.
We’re responsive, attentive, and kind. We’re also known as some of Canada’s toughest negotiators and savviest litigators.
Call us at (780) 413-9777 to schedule a case review today.