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Paine Edmonds LLP - Blog

Car Accidents: You Must File Your Lawsuit Within Two Years


By Chris Trueman, Associate at Paine Edmonds LLP, Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been in a car accident or otherwise injured due to the negligence of others, you have two years from the date of the accident to start a lawsuit.
Failure to file your lawsuit within the two year limitation period can be fatal to your case.
If you are dealing injuries suffered in a car accident, ICBC has no duty to tell you about your two-year limitation period. Reasons were released today
in Field v. Harvey, 2012 BCSC 456. In dismissing the injured party’s claim,
Mr. Justice Bracken had this to say:
[6]There was no further activity on the matter until July 31, 2009, when an ICBC adjuster telephoned the plaintiff’s home and left a message inquiring
about her injuries. No response was received to that message.
[7]As she had heard nothing further from the plaintiff, the adjuster closed her file on October 2, 2009. The next time the plaintiff contacted ICBC was
not until November 24, 2010, almost sixteen months later. As the limitation period had expired by that point, the adjuster advised the plaintiff of
the provisions of the Limitations Act and reminded her of the attempts to contact her. The plaintiff advised the adjuster that she had been
too busy to return the calls. The plaintiff was advised to contact the adjuster’s manager to discuss matters further
[30]It is clear from the case law that ICBC was under no obligation to warn the plaintiff that the limitation period had commenced, was not postponed,
and would soon expire. It also clear that ICBC abided by the “preferred course” of action, as articulated by Huddart J.A. in Balzer, by including
the following notification in their correspondence with the plaintiff:
Nothing herein contained is or shall be construed as either an admission of liability on the part of the insured or a waiver or extension of any applicable
limitation period. It is evident that the plaintiff received this notification, given her handwritten reply on the letter in question and this statement
should have alerted the plaintiff to the existence of the limitation period.
It is evident that the plaintiff received this notification given her hand written reply on the letter. The content of the letter should have alerted the
plaintiff to the possible existence of a limitation period that might affect her claim.
[38]Limitation periods exist, in part, to encourage plaintiffs to bring their actions in a timely manner. The plaintiff has failed to bring her action
in a timely manner and has not satisfied this court that there exists a lawful reason for her failure to comply with the provisions of the Limitation Act.
If you have been dealing with your accident claim on your own and are approaching the two-year anniversary mark, please contact our office immediately to discuss your claim.