Insurance companies use various strategies in an effort to get unrepresented claimants to settle their claims prematurely, often for far less than fair value. In Alberta an injury claimant must file a claim with the court before the “limitation period” expires. If a claimant fails to file a proper claim prior to the limitation deadline, the claimant loses the right to make a claim. When not represented by a lawyer, claimants often panic when a limitation deadline is approaching and end up making a quick settlement for far less than the claim is worth. Even claimants who have not yet completed treatments for their injuries sometimes succumb to pressure from insurance adjusters to settle their claims for a fraction of what they deserve. Claimants do have the right to continue their claim beyond the limitation deadline, providing they file the appropriate papers with the Court prior to any limitation deadline. *
We strongly recommend that claimants retain legal counsel long before the approach of any limitation deadline. It is difficult, and sometimes impossible, for a lawyer to assist unrepresented claimants who wait until the last moment before an impending limitation deadline to retain legal counsel.
Another concern is that many unrepresented claimants are being told by insurance adjusters that their injuries fall under the minor injury cap legislation. This is not always true. In many cases, certain types of injuries, including chronic pain, may fall outside the cap legislation. Unfortunately, this information isn’t making it to those affected, and they often end up settling their claims for amounts lower than they should have.
* WARNING – Although there is a general two year limitation period in Alberta, before which injured persons must file a claim with the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, shorter limitation periods may apply in cases involving an accident with an uninsured driver (90 days) or when suing a municipality (21 days). If you miss a limitation period you may lose your right to make a claim. We strongly advise all claimants to protect their rights by retaining legal counsel at an early date.
If you have questions regarding the content of this article, please contact:
Trent Brown, B.A., LL.B.
James H. Brown & Associates