When involved in a motor vehicle collision or other injury-type incident, potential claimants are often unsure of how to proceed, are intimidated by the legal system, would prefer not to deal with a lawyer, or are preoccupied with other responsibilities or obligations. If the procrastination continues for an extended period of time, potential claimants run the risk of losing the right to advance a claim through the legal system. The most important date for an injured person to remember is the limitation period. After that date, the option to start a claim is no longer available, subject to extremely narrow exceptions.
The limitation date is different depending on the individual advancing the claim. It is possible, therefore, for multiple individuals involved in the exact same incident to be subject to varying limitation dates.
The rules are codified in the Alberta Limitations Act, RSA 2000, c L-12. There are esoteric rules contained in the statute which govern very specific cases. However, for the scope of this article, the typical rules are:
- For an average person over the age of 18 at the time of the accident, the limitation period is two years following the date of the accident or incident. For example, in a collision on January 5, 2018, the limitation period is January 5, 2020.
- For an injured person who is under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, the limitation period is suspended until that individual attains the age of 18. Therefore, the deadline is postponed until two years following that person’s 18th birthday, or his/her 20th birthday.
- For an injured person who is under a disability at the time of the accident, the limitation period is suspended indefinitely. An individual under a disability is:
- An individual who is a represented adult as defined in the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act;
- A person who is unable to make reasonable judgments in respect of matters relating to a claim; or
- A person in respect of whom a certificate of incapacity is in effect under the Public Trustee Act
In 2011, the Fair Practices Regulation was passed. One key aspect of that Regulation was that insurers are now required to give written notice to a potential claimant of the limitation date that applies to them. If you have been involved in an accident but were never informed of this deadline, it may be possible for the limitation period to be extended.
If you are concerned that a limitation issue or exception may apply to your case, the lawyers at Kubitz & Company would be happy to discuss your claim with you.
Article by Ryan P. Lee, a personal injury lawyer in Calgary, Alberta.