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Limitation Periods In Alberta

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From school to workplaces, we’re familiar with deadlines. Interestingly, even legal proceedings have deadlines, and you must file claims within that period of time. Otherwise, you’ll lose out on the opportunity to collect any compensation for an injury from an accident, economic loss, or property damage.

Simply put, time is of the essence. The sooner you sue for damages, the higher the likelihood that you won’t have to deal with the complications of Alberta’s statute of limitations, which stipulates the period you must file a civil claim. 

Ideally, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer as soon as you’ve been injured. However, several problems can arise when determining when the limitation period starts. 

Read on to learn more about Alberta’s limitation period.

What is the Alberta Limitations Act?

The limitation period in Alberta is stipulated in the Limitations Act, RSA 2000. One of the most crucial limitation provisions is the time frame you must file a statement of claim to the Court of Queen’s Bench or the provincial court. 

From the date you file your claim in court, you have one year to serve it on the potential defendant (e.g., the party who caused your injuries). Unless you applied for an extension of time, you might not receive any compensation if you don’t serve the claim within a year.

You can only file a claim against the conduct of the defendant if their action has injured you. It’s essential to note that the limitation period starts from the date of your injury and not from the date of a later event, such as death. For example, if you were injured today and died six months later from your accident injuries, the limitation period starts today.

In response to the pandemic, a Ministerial Order (MO) was issued that suspended limitation periods in any proceeding from March to June 2020. Moreover, in a case from 2010, the Alberta Court of Appeal stressed that when determining when the limitation period begins, the focus should be on when the claimant has discovered the injury.

Apart from the MO suspension, Section 19 of the Act specifies that part-payment of debts resets the limitation period. This can be considered a remedy for debtors, especially those incapable of making full payments. 

Certain actions can have more limitation periods. Provided that the facts arising from the said claim happened in different jurisdictions.  

“Action” defined

In the Limitation of Actions Act, “action” refers to a lawsuit, motion notice, or civil claim. According to the Alberta rules of court, an example of an action is a court application to seek compensation. 

The 2/10 Rule 

According to section 3 of the Limitations Act, people can use the 2/10 rule for most civil cases in Alberta. The 2/10 rule consists of limitation periods of two and ten years.

Two-year limitation period

Section 3(1)(a) of Alberta’s Limitations Act stipulates that the limitation period to file a claim is two years from the time the claimant knew or ought to have known about their injuries. Moreover, the following factors will be used to determine whether to allow the suit: 

  1. Whether an injury has occurred;
  2. Whether the defendant caused the claimant’s injuries; and
  3. Whether the injury is severe enough to justify the proceeding.

Note that the word used is “and,” which means that all three factors must be present when considering the limitation period. Therefore, if the claimant doesn’t seek a remedy within the time frame, they might not be able to receive any compensation. 

While the Limitations Act clearly states that the limitation period is two years, many people may still need clarification. The limitation period starts when you discover the injury or ought to have known about it. This is because some injuries take time to surface, such as consumer products that may cause cancer. Nevertheless, the burden to recognize the injury is on the party seeking compensation. 

However, if you were injured and didn’t file a claim within the limitation period, you’ll be barred from bringing the action later. 

Though it’s sometimes challenging to discover the injury in a personal injury claim, it’s generally easier in commercial litigation. Nevertheless, it’s best to talk to a lawyer to file a claim within the proper time frame. 

Ten-year ultimate limitation period

Unlike the two-year limit, the ultimate limitation period is not dependent on discoverability or whether the claimant is aware of their injuries. The defendant’s conduct is crucial for the ten-year limitation period.  

The ultimate limitation period applies when the negligent act isn’t immediately recognized during the time of the misconduct, such as in construction cases, and starts from the date the claimant filed the claim. However, if the claimant doesn’t seek a remedial order within ten years, they may not be able to get any compensation.   

Exemptions to the Limitation Period

There are a few instances wherein the statute of limitations is extended. The extension or suspension of limitation periods is generally extended in the following cases:

  • Sexual assault or battery
  • Misconduct of a sexual nature against a minor, a lover, a dependent, or a person with a disability
  • Cases involving concealment 
  • Cases that involve persons with disabilities

In cases involving minors, the limitation period begins after they reach 18 years old. For example, if a minor was sexually assaulted when they were 15, they can file a claim within two years from when they become 18 years old.

Moreover, the limitation period is also extended if the person who injured you has fraudulently concealed it, as you will otherwise have no way of knowing that you were injured. Alternatively, if the parties agree, they can extend the limitation period through a contract. 

Recoverable Losses 

If you don’t file the claim within the time frame and the suit doesn’t fall into one of the exemptions, the defendant can’t held liable for your injuries. 

However, if you filed the claim within the deadline and the court found the defendant to be at fault, then the defendant will be required to provide compensation for your injuries. You can receive compensation for your personal injuries or any damage to your property. Moreover, if a defendant’s non-performance of an obligation or breach of a duty they owed to you occurs, you’re also entitled to receive compensation.

Pro Tip

It is advisable to seek out the legal counsel of a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to avoid potential limitations issues.

Hire a Personal Injury Law Firm Before Time Runs Out

Going through a lawsuit can be stressful and draining, especially when you’re the claimant. The most rational thing to do would be to work with a personal injury lawyer to handle your claim so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.

Whether you’re from Edmonton, Calgary, Ontario, or other parts of Alberta, the team at Diamond & Diamond can prepare your case. They’ll start with a free case evaluation. They’ll guide you through the process, as limitation periods are often confusing. 

Take action before the deadline. To protect your rights in a claim, contact Diamond & Diamond right away.

FAQs on Limitation Periods in Alberta

Is there a statute of limitations for debt in Alberta?

The time limit for debt claims is generally two years, starting from when the debt began. Debt claims include breach of contract, unpaid loans, damage deposits, and rent owing.  

If I was injured as a child, would the Limitations Act affect my case if I file when I turn 18?

The Limitations Act allows you to file a claim within two years after you turn 18. 

What evidence do I need to file for a personal injury case within the statute of limitations?

To support your claim, gather as much evidence as possible, such as police and medical reports and testimonies from witnesses. You can even have experts testify and explain to the court how the injuries have impacted your life.

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