There are many reasons why people who have been injured in a car accident, slip and fall, or faulty product incident delay filing a personal injury suit.
You may not be sure if your injury qualifies you to seek damages in a court of law, or your injury may have developed several weeks after your accident occurred. Perhaps your injury has worsened over time, or you’re now realizing how much your personal injury is impacting your life in the present and will continue to do in the future.
Whatever your reason for not filing a personal injury claim at the time of your accident, now you’re not sure if it’s too late to do so. If you’re uncertain if your injury constitutes a right to claim damages in a court of law, please contact one of our Langley, Vancouver, or Coquitlam law offices for further advice.
1. Limitation periods are situation dependent
There is not one catch-all answer for when a personal injury suit can be launched. The amount of time you have depends on a number of factors, including when your accident happened and when your injury manifested.
2. Two timelines for motor vehicle accidents
A benefit claim related to a car accident must be made to ICBC within 90 days of the incident. This will allow you to start collecting medical benefits and wage benefits from ICBC. You then have up to two years to launch a civil lawsuit, or tort claim, against that driver, which is a separate process.
If your injury isn’t apparent immediately following the accident but develops later, the date for filing a claim may move to the date you reasonably should have discovered the injury. That means, for example, if you suffered a car accident and began to have neck pain a few weeks afterwards, but didn’t visit the doctor until several months later, the time limitation will be tied to the first symptoms rather than the first doctor visit.
If you aren’t sure at what point your personal injury claim timeline may have started, you can speak to DBM’s personal injury lawyers for advice specific to your situation.
3. “Basic” versus “ultimate” limitation period
For slip and fall and other types of personal injuries caused by someone else’s negligence, the basic limitation period is two years, as set out in the British Columbia Limitation Act.
However, this basic limitation period can be suspended in a variety of situations, including those involving minors and adults with disabilities. The basic limitation period can also be suspended when a person who would like to make a claim has been willfully misled by another party to not make a claim in a court of law. If any of the above describes your personal injury situation, you should contact a legal professional immediately.
If the basic limitation period does not apply to a claim for any reason, then the “ultimate limitation period” will apply as a maximum, which under the British Columbia courts is 15 years from the date of the incident.
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