Limitation Periods in Motor Vehicle Accidents

A limitation period is an important element of injury law. When people are injured in a motor vehicle accident they may not at first notice the degree to which they have been impaired by the injuries. In fact, it may only be some time after the fact that they realize the severity of what has occurred. As a result, sometimes we are asked by potential clients whether they can bring lawsuits for accidents that happened 4, 6, 10, or 15 years in the past. This is an excellent question and one that our government has deemed to answer through a statute known in Alberta as the Limitations Act. This act sets out what lawyers call “Limitation Periods”, you may have heard the act referred to as the Alberta “Statute of Limitations”

What is a Limitation Period?

For the Alberta Statute of Limitations, a limitation period is the applicable period of time from the date of the accident into the future in which you are able to open a lawsuit against the party who caused the accident. Failure to bring your lawsuit within the applicable period can result in your lawsuit being statute-barred. This means that you will be unable to bring a lawsuit and your ability to recover compensation for injuries sustained in the accident has been nullified.

What is the Limitation Period For My Case?

This will vary depending on the circumstances but there are several possibilities.

If you are an adult the statute of limitations mandates you have two years from the date on which you first knew or ought to have known that your injury was caused by the act or omission of the other party. This means in Alberta, generally, as an adult, you will have two years to bring your claim from the date of the accident.

Alternatively if for some reason you didn’t know or ought to have known your injury was due to actions or omissions by the other party the ultimate limitation period set by the Alberta Statute of Limitations is ten years. Meaning if you didn’t know or ought to have known about the source of your injury and you were an adult you would have ten years to bring the claim.

For minors, the situation changes, the act deems all limitation periods in relation to minors to be suspended until the minor turns 18. Then it would run from the date of their 18th birthday to the specified period. As a result in a motor vehicle accident, the limitation period will typically be 2 years from the date of the minor’s 18th birthday, in a situation where the minor did not know or ought to know the omissions or acts of another caused the injury then it would be ten years from the 18th birthday.

Likewise where the person is considered a “person under disability” as defined by the act, then the limitations periods will be suspended for any period of time in which the person is considered such.

When Should I be Seeking a Lawyer to Assist Me With Bringing My Lawsuit?

Connecting with a lawyer earlier in the process is generally a good course of action, generally, you will want to connect with a lawyer within the first 3 to 6 months of the accident occurring. However, within 2 weeks of the accident would be preferred. This will allow your lawyer to walk you through the process of a personal injury lawsuit, advise you on what is required for a strong case, advise you on what to do if the other driver’s insurer attempts to contact you, and answer any questions you may have.

What About Other Timelines?

In the event you have been struck by a hit and run driver you would be using something called the motor vehicle accident claims fund. This is a government fund that provides a pool of up to $200,000.00 from which you can draw when recovering compensation for your accident. Where this is necessary you will have to put the fund on notice, this generally is required to be done within 90 days. However, in the event, you have failed to contact a lawyer within this time it may still be worth reaching out. In some cases the fund has waived this issue and allowed claims to proceed, otherwise, there may be further legal options you can pursue to ensure you can bring your claim.

Where the injury results on a municipal road due to ice, slush or snow you must notify the municipality within 21 days to be able to proceed with a claim. Damages resulting due to the municipality’s failure to keep roads in a proper state of the repair require notice to be given within 30 days. Regardless of if you think you’ve hit these periods you should still check with a lawyer to see what your options are.

James H. Brown and Associates Are Here To Help!

Call the heavy hitters at James H. Brown and Associates, Alberta Injury Lawyers. We are Alberta’s precedent-setting law firm, with over 250 years of combined injury law experience, we are eager to help you with your motor vehicle accident related claims and ensure that you get the compensation that you are entitled too. If you are concerned about if you are within your limitation period contact us for a free injury claim evaluation today. Our lawyers are eager to assist! 780-428-0088.

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