When you or a loved one suffers a serious injury, your first priority is to get the necessary medical care. However, if the injury was caused by the negligence of another person, party, or entity, it is important to speak with an experienced Edmonton personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Missing the deadline to file your personal injury claim could leave you unable to collect the compensation to which you may be entitled.
Whether you were injured in a slip and fall accident or in a motor vehicle accident such as a car crash, truck crash, or motorbike crash, if someone else’s negligent, reckless, or careless behaviour caused your accident, you may be entitled to compensation. But what happens if you miss the deadline to file your personal injury claim? How far back can you make a claim? Read on to learn more.
How long after an injury can you claim compensation? Does it change based on the injury?
In Alberta, the Limitations Act sets time limits for filing civil claims such as personal injury claims. The statute of limitations varies depending on the specific type of personal injury claim, but in general, there is a two-year limitation period. This includes personal injury claims related to:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Serious and fatal accidents
The Limitations Act requires that personal injury claims must be started within two years of the accident or ten years after the claim arose, whichever comes first. However, it is important to note that most personal injury claims fall within the timeline of the former, rather than the latter option, and thus must be filed within two years of the date you knew or should have known that:
- The injury or loss occurred
- The injury or loss was caused by someone else’s negligent, reckless, or careless behaviour
- The injury or loss was severe enough to warrant legal action
Failure to file your claim within this timeframe may mean that you are unable to sue in civil court for compensation for your injuries. While you will likely know the date the incident in which you were injured occurred, you may not realize immediately that your injuries are serious. Seemingly minor accidents can lead to injuries that require serious medical intervention such as surgery and/or require ongoing treatment and care such as physical therapy or pain management medication. The cost of these treatments can add up and may cut into your time at work. This could have a negative impact on your career, as you may require frequent or significant amounts of time off of work.
An accident in which you sustain serious injuries can also take a toll on your mental and emotional health and well-being, leaving you in need of therapy and other care. While the injury itself can be a tremendous source of stress, so too can the effects on your career and finances – and your family. Depending on the type of injury you sustained and the severity, you may be unable to perform the job you held before your accident, leaving you unable to support yourself and your family financially.
Even worse, your injuries could make it difficult or impossible for you to take care of your home and children. For instance, a traumatic brain injury might make previously simple tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and childcare difficult, while a spinal injury that includes partial or full paralysis could mean you can no longer hold your own child.
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in an accident that was caused by the negligent, reckless, or careless behaviour or inaction of another person, party, or entity, it is crucial that you speak with an Edmonton personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine if you have a valid personal injury claim. The sooner you consult a personal injury lawyer after your accident, the better.
If your lawyer believes you have a valid personal injury claim and together you decide to move forward with the claim, your lawyer will begin gathering relevant information to build your case. This includes any and all medical and police reports, witness statements, records of expenses, and any other documents related to the incident in which you were injured and the follow-up care. It will be easier to compile this information immediately following the accident rather than waiting months or even years to gather it.
What if you waited too long to file your personal injury claim?
If you missed the deadline to file your claim and the statute of limitations has ended, all may not be lost. Canadian law does allow certain exceptions to the timelines set forth in the Limitations Act. These exceptions are rare and apply only where it would be considered unjust not to apply them. Among the exceptions to the personal injury claim statute of limitations:
- Conduct and omissions. An exception may be made for claims based on a “continuous course of conduct or series of related acts or omissions.” In this situation, the time limit begins when the conduct ends or the last act of omission takes place.
- Age. If the personal injury claim involves a minor, the Limitations Act is suspended until the minor reaches the legal age of 18 or until such time as the minor can be represented by a litigation guardian or the Public Trustee, whichever occurs first.
- Health. The timeline to file the personal injury claim may be extended if the injured person is not represented by a litigation guardian and is physically, mentally, or emotionally unable to begin legal proceedings.
If you or your personal injury lawyer can demonstrate that these or any other valid exceptions apply, there is a chance the window of time for filing your personal injury claim may be extended. However, it is best to file your claim within the two-year limitation window and to meet each and every other deadline related to your legal claim.
Contact a skilled personal injury lawyer today
While recovery is always the first priority after you or a loved one suffers a serious injury, waiting too long to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer could mean that you miss out on the compensation you deserve. If you or someone you love has been injured due to someone else’s negligent, reckless, or careless behaviour, Chadi & Company can help. Our Edmonton personal injury lawyers have experience handling all types of personal injury claims and can advise you regarding the validity of your claim. We fight to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Call us at (780) 429-2300 or complete our online form today to schedule your free, confidential consultation.