Time Limits for Personal Injury Claims
All personal injury claims in British Columbia are subject to certain time limits. This is known as a limitation period. If you do not bring a claim within the limitation period, you will lose your chance to obtain compensation – even if you have a strong case.
What are the time limits for personal injury claims?
Different types of personal injury claim have different time limits. Typically, there will be a basic limitation period of two years. This means that if you were wrongfully injured in an accident on 1 January 2018, you will have until 1 January 2020 to bring a claim.
However, it is not always as simple as that. In some situations, you will have a much shorter time frame in which to take action. In others, you will have more than two years in which to bring a claim.
For example, if your injury is the fault of a government municipality, you must provide them with notice of your intention to bring a claim within two months, and start your claim within six months. This might apply to injuries sustained due to an icy sidewalk.
Or if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident and you wish to claim Part 7 benefits, you must notify ICBC within 30 days and make an application within 90 days. If the driver at fault fled the scene of the accident, you must notify ICBC within six months.
On the flip side, if you do not become aware of your injury for some time, or another reason postpones your ability to pursue a claim, then the ultimate limitation period may apply. This means that you would have 15 years to bring a claim.
Once 15 years have lapsed, you will no longer be able to claim compensation for your injuries, no matter what. This law was introduced in 2012, and halved the previous ultimate limitation period, which was 30 years.
When does the clock start ticking?
The limitation period will usually begin from the ‘discovery date’. This is the date that you are reasonably expected to have –
- Known about your injury
- Known that your injury was caused by another person’s or organization’s negligence
- Known the identity of the person or organization at fault
- Known that you could bring a claim
In most personal injury claims, the limitation period will begin from the date of the accident, as it is often obvious that another party is at fault and that injuries have been sustained. This is particularly true of motor vehicle accidents.
Nevertheless, the discovery date is not always clear-cut and can be open to interpretation. This creates added complications in personal injury claims, as the discovery date may be disputed by the defendant in an attempt to thwart the claims process.
Furthermore, if you have been claiming Part 7 benefits from ICBC, you have two years to bring a claim starting from the date of your last benefits payment, or the date of the accident – whichever is the later date.
Are there exceptions to the rule?
Yes! If you were under the age of 19 when you suffered your injuries, the clock will not start ticking until your 19th birthday. So, if the basic limitation period of two years applies, you will have until your 21st birthday to bring a claim.
Also, if the injured person is legally disabled, the time limits do not apply for as long as that person continues to be disabled.
However, in either scenario the defendant may issue a Notice to Proceed. This will initiate the start of the limitation period.
Speak to a personal injury lawyer
Because of the strict time limits in place, we advise that if you are involved in an accident, you speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
If you do not bring a claim within the designated time frame, you will lose your opportunity to make a personal injury claim, even if you have suffered physical and/or financial damage as a result of your injuries.
A personal injury lawyer will be able to clarify whether or not you are entitled to make a claim, and if so, will handle the process on your behalf. This will ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve, and that you do not fall foul of any time limits.Go back to Blog