How Long Is Too Long To Wait Before Consulting A Personal Injury Lawyer?

Paine Edmonds - Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Personal injury accidents are unfortunately common, with the two most frequent being motor vehicle accidents and slip and fall accidents. Each type of accident has unique notice period requirements and limitation periods that you must comply with or you may lose your right to sue. It’s difficult to focus your attention on deadlines and paperwork when you or your family member is suffering through serious injuries but our Vancouver lawyers can take care of this hassle while you recover.

Immediate Steps Following A Personal Injury Accident

The first important step to take after you’ve suffered a personal injury accident is to get proper medical attention to treat your injuries. It is also essential to report the accident to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (“ICBC”) within one to two days to ensure adequate coverage for any claims you might make in the near future if you start a lawsuit against the at fault party.

That being said, it is prudent to consult with a lawyer as soon as it is practical, and prior to speaking with the adjuster if it is possible. An experienced lawyer can help collect the necessary details and evidence to provide to the insurance adjuster before you speak to them. The adjuster does not have your best interest in mind. The adjuster works for the insurance company, which is the opposing party if you start a lawsuit against ICBC. Given the high degree of importance placed on the details you provide to the adjuster, it’s best to seek legal assistance right away.

After a lawyer has assisted you in reporting the incident, the lawyer will begin collecting further details for your claim. This might include hiring an investigator to photograph and gather evidence from the scene of the accident and interview witnesses.

Limitation Periods Can Impact Your Claim

It is best not to wait too long before contacting a personal injury lawyer as there are several strict deadlines you must follow to make a legal claim or else your claim may become statute barred. ICBC has no duty to advise you of the limitation periods for your claim but an injury lawyer in Vancouver can advise and guide you through this process to protect your rights.

Motor Vehicle Accident Limitation Periods With ICBC

To receive accident benefits for a motor vehicle collision, you have 30 days after the accident to submit a written report outlining the details and circumstances of the accident and your resulting injuries. Your lawyer can prepare this submission and ensure it is delivered within the time limit. Finally, you must submit a proof of claim 60 days after you submit the written report. If any of these deadlines are missed, then ICBC may deny your claim.

If ICBC denies your claim you have two years from the date ICBC denied your claim to commence an action against them or you may lose this right forever. For example, in Tolentino v Gill, 2012 BCSC 1383 (CanLII), the plaintiff suffered injuries as a result of a motor vehicle collision in January 2004. The plaintiff started an action in March 2007, which was well over the two-year limitation period. The court found that although the adjuster did not act reasonably, the plaintiff was aware that he was free to hire a lawyer at any time but failed to do so. The court ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.

The court made a similar finding in DeWolfe v. Jones, 2016 BCSC 2008 (CanLII) where the plaintiffs were injured in a motor vehicle accident in April 2005. The plaintiffs failed to retain a lawyer and commenced an action in July 2009. While arguing they relied on statements regarding a potential settlement with the adjuster, the court was not convinced that the plaintiffs relied on assurances by ICBC to their detriment. The court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim for damages.

Slip & Fall Limitation Periods

In most situations, slip and fall accidents have a two-year limitation period. However, there is a more stringent limitation period if the accident occurred on government property. Namely, you must provide notice to the municipality within two months of the accident and commence an action against the city within six months. It’s important to contact a lawyer early so the lawyer can notify the correct parties and in a timely manner.

Get the Financial Compensation you Deserve

While an accident injury will require your immediate attention, we can takeover communications with the appropriate party (e.g., ICBC) to help you get the financial compensation. Our personal injury lawyers in Vancouver work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay until we settle your claim. Call us for help at 1-800-669-8599.