WHEN IS IT TOO LATE TO SUE?Oct 3 2013
The time you have to sue someone who has wronged you, also known as a limitation period, can be harsh and inflexible. In fact, it doesn’t matter how much someone owes you or how badly you are injured; limitation periods seldom change. If the limitation period has expired, you’ve lost your ability to sue. Recent legislative changes in BC have actually shortened the length of limitation periods in many instances.
Prior to June 1, 2013, the old BC Limitation Act imposed different limitation periods of two, six, or ten years, depending on the type of claim. Typically, a limitation period would begin as soon as the right to make a claim occurred, but exceptions made it possible to postpone the start of the limitation period in certain scenarios.
The new Limitation Act has several notable changes. First and foremost, it removes distinctions based on the type of the claim by making ALL claims subject to a two-year limitation period. It also clarifies that the limitation period does not begin to run until the plaintiff discovers (or ought reasonably to have discovered) that a debt, injury, loss or damage has occurred, and that a court proceeding is an appropriate means to seek a remedy.
The new Limitation Act also reduces the “ultimate limitation period,” which describes the maximum time that a limitation period can extend. This time has now been reduced from 30 to 15 years. Since limitation periods do not begin until a claim is discovered, people might assume that their ability to sue would never expire in situations where the damage or injury has not yet been detected. The “ultimate limitation period” eliminates this possibility, as it imposes an ultimate time limit regardless of whether or not damage has been discovered.
If you’ve been wronged – no matter how large or small – the clock is ticking. Despite the legislature’s best intentions, the new Limitation Act is still complicated. It is more important than ever that you see a lawyer who can advise you on the steps you need to take to ensure that time doesn’t run out before you get the compensation you deserve.