Is There a Time Limit on Personal Injury Claims?
When you get hurt because of somebody else’s negligence, you have the right to file a lawsuit for personal injury.
To have the best chance of success, it’s important to understand the law surrounding personal injury claims and how it might affect your case. And a key issue that you should understand involves the time limits on bringing a lawsuit forward.
Is there a time limit for bringing a suit?
There are some governing national statutes when it comes to personal injury, but each province of Canada also has its own regulations. Authorities in Nova Scotia set time limits for civil suits in 2015 when they passed the Limitation of Actions Act.
Basically, the act gives you two years from the time you are injured — either the date of the accident or the date you discover your injury — to file a suit. There are exceptions to the law, but in general, a two-year limit applies.
Why are there any time limits at all?
At the time lawmakers passed the act, they explained the purpose of the law as a way to balance the rights of both parties. Most obviously, the injured party has a right to compensation for the harm they have suffered.
Potential defendants have rights too, including the right to closure about claims and the right to certainty. In passing the act, the government intended to encourage both parties to address claims quickly. This means it’s important to contact law firms such as Prezlerlaw-NS as soon as you’ve been injured, so you can begin the process.
What kinds of personal injury does the law cover?
The 2015 act applies to any claim where one person is seeking remedy for suffering because of something another person did or failed to do. The damage might be an injury, or it might be damage to or loss of something important.
The most common claims of this type are medical malpractice, personal injury after an accident, and breach of contract. The key is that one party must have suffered, and that suffering must be the direct result of the other party’s negligence.
What are the exceptions to the time limits?
There are a few types of personal injury which have no time limits at all. For example, if someone has suffered personal injury because of abuse or sexual assault, it’s possible to bring a lawsuit at any time.
There is also an exception for certain types of medical malpractice where it might not be possible to realise you have been harmed within just two years. For example, if there is a negligent mistake during surgery, the patient might not realise the harm for four or five years. In these cases, the time limit is 15 years.
Can judges change anything?
There is one more key provision within the Limitations of Action Act. The act gives judges in Nova Scotia freedom to extend the two-year limitation by another two years at their own discretion. This is only done in cases where the defendant has suffered little or no prejudice.
The concept of prejudice in the courtroom simply means damage that comes from disregarding a person’s rights. In this case, if the judges are confident that the defendant’s rights have not been harmed, they can choose to extend the time limit.
I’m still not sure about my case: what should I do?
Because there are important exceptions to the law, and because the whole process of bringing a lawsuit is very complicated, it’s best to have a legal professional on your side. Your best choice will be an expert in Nova Scotia’s personal injury law and the precedents set by cases since 2015.
Even if you think you have missed the deadline, it’s still wise to contact an attorney and get some advice. It may be possible to get an exception, but the sooner you bring your suit, the better.