In Alberta, the Limitations Act, creates time limits for filing civil claims (i.e. lawsuits), for any injury including serious personal injury claims. This means that in most cases, you cannot sue after a certain period of time has gone by.
Two Year Limitation Period
In the majority of injury cases, including motor vehicle accidents , serious and fatal accidents, and slip and fall accidents, claims need to be started either:
- Within two years of the incident in question; or
- Ten years after the claim arose, whichever occurs first.
In most cases, the two-year window is the critical one, and legal claims must be filed within that short period of time.
Following your injury or loss, you may initially be focused on recovery or wait and see what happens before you decide to commence litigation, however, it is important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible in order to make sure that you do not miss any important timelines. If you allow any legal limitation periods to pass without taking action, you may miss your opportunity to sue for damages for your injury or loss, and may therefore miss your change to obtain compensation that will help you in your recovery and in your post-injury life.
When Does the Limitation Period Begin to Run?
For the most part, the timeline for filing a claim begins to run on the date that the person filing the claim knew or ought to have known that:
- The injury occurred;
- The injury was a result of someone else’s conduct;
- The injury warranted bringing a legal action.
This can be challenging to determine, as not all injuries immediately present themselves, or there may be no immediate connection between someone’s actions and an injury. However, these difficulties make it even more critical to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an incident that you think may potentially lead to legal action in order to preserve your rights.
Exceptions to the Limitation Rules
Exceptions to the above timelines are provided where it would be unjust to strictly apply them. Some exceptions include:
- Claims based on a “continuous course of conduct or series of related acts or omissions”, in which case the timer does not begin to run until the conduct stops, or until the last act or omission takes place;
- Claims involving minors, in which case the operation of the Act is suspended until that minor reaches 18 years of age, or until the minor can be represented by a litigation guardian or the Public Trustee.
Limitation periods are a complex and technical area of the law. If you have any questions or doubts about commencing a claim, or about how limitation periods may potentially affect it, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The personal injury lawyers at HMC Lawyers can review your situation, help you determine whether you should file a claim for compensation, and ensure that no deadlines for filing are missed. To book your consultation, call 1-800-480-3534 or contact us online. We represent injured individuals in Calgary and across Alberta.