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Motor Vehicle Accidents

Time-limits on car accident claims.

Yes, there is a time limit for filing a claim.

Regardless of which Atlantic Province you live in, there are overarching rules that apply to your ability to file a car accident claim.

As a general rule, when pursuing a personal injury claim in Atlantic Canada, you have two years from the day the accident occurred or was “discovered,” to file your car accident claim. This general rule can be found in the following pieces of legislation, depending on which Atlantic Canadian province you reside:

But like anything in law, this is subject to a wide range of exemptions based on your province, for example, who you are suing, your age, and when the accident was ‘discovered’.

How do you discover a claim?

You may be wondering how you discover a claim. You discover a claim on the day that you know, or ought to have known, the following:

  • The injury, loss, or damage occurred
  • The injury, loss, or damage was caused by an act
  • The act was caused by a defendant (the other party)
  • Unique to Nova Scotia, the damage must be sufficiently serious to warrant a proceeding

These details can be found in subsection 8(2) of the Nova Scotian Limitations of Actions Act and subsection 5(2) of New Brunswick’s Limitation of Actions Act.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, a claim is discovered when the person knew of, or considering all the circumstances of the matter, ought to have known that they had a cause of action.

For most car accident claims, this discovery will occur on the day the accident actually happened. However, depending on the specific circumstances applicable to your claim, this date could be delayed.

The Ultimate Limitation Period

Another common concept across Atlantic Canadian limitations legislation is an Ultimate Limitation Period. This is the absolute longest time that you have to bring a claim to fruition.

In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, as outlined in their respective limitation legislation, the Ultimate Limitation Period is 15 years from the day that the car accident occurred. However, in Newfoundland and Labrador, this period is 30 years from the accident’s occurrence, while Prince Edward Island does not have such a period, and each province has its own specific rules and regulations depending on your specific car accident claim.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s Limitations of Actions Act states:

  • Under the Limitations of Actions Act, limitation periods do not run while the plaintiff is a minor. This means your limitation clock will not start ticking until you reach the age of majority.
  • Additionally, limitation periods do not run or will be suspended, while the plaintiff is seen as incapable of bringing a claim because of their physical, mental, or psychological condition.
  • When filing a claim against a governmental agency, there are notice requirements in the Nova Scotian legislation. If the claim is against a provincial agent (i.e., provincial government), the Proceedings against the Crown Act requires that you give a minimum of 60 days’ notice before filing your claim. However, if the claim is brought against a municipality, this period is reduced to 30 days’ notice, under the Municipal Government Act.

New Brunswick

  • New Brunswick’s limitation rules include:
  • Like Nova Scotia, New Brunswick’s Limitation of Actions Act suspends the limitation period while the plaintiff is a minor or is incapable of bringing a claim because of their physical, mental, or psychological condition.
  • In the event of a wrongful death claim resulting from your motor vehicle accident, the Fatal Accidents Act has an ultimate limitation period of 5 years from the day of the death of the deceased for compensation to be claimed.
  • The Proceedings Against the Crown Act requires 2 months’ notice in writing, served to the Attorney General or relevant corporation regarding any potential claim against the Province. If the limitation period to your claim ends after the two-month period, it will be extended by 7 days after the two-month period.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Limitations rules that may come into play pertaining to your motor vehicle claim include:

  • Under the Limitations Act, a limitation period is suspended when a person is seen as having a disability at the time of the accident. The limitation period will continue once the injured person has recovered. This may arise in the event of a serious motor vehicle accident that has left you with severe injuries.
  • Under the Healthy, Safety and Compensation Act, a claim for compensation must be made within 3 months from the occurrence of the injury. If this period is missed, you must apply to the commission and they will decide on whether you can still bring your claim. While not relevant to all claims, it can come into play if your motor vehicle accident occurred while at work and gave rise to worker’s compensation.
  • Seen in the City of St. John’s Act, an action may not be started after 6 months from the date of loss. This will be important if you find yourself in an accident with a provincial vehicle.
  • Unique to Newfoundland and Labrador, and very important to remember, is the need to file a notice of intent to pursue a personal injury lawsuit and have that notice served to the defendant within 120 days of the accident. This can be found in the Automobile Insurance Act. If you miss this deadline, you can still receive compensation but will be barred from prejudgment interest.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island’s rules when filing your motor vehicle accident claim state:

  • If a plaintiff has a disability, as defined by the Statute of Limitations, the limitation period does not begin until they no longer have this disability. A disability is seen as arising out of minority or unsoundness of the mind. It is important to discuss this with an experienced car accident lawyer to determine whether this applies to your claim.
  • The Crown Proceedings Act requires 90 days written notice containing the name and address of the plaintiff, the court where the claim will be brought and the particulars of the claim are to be served to the Crown for claims involving the province.
  • For claims against the Province regarding accidents on highways due to its condition, notice in writing indicating the location, nature, and the alleged cause is required to be served or mailed by registered mail to the Deputy Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy within 90 days of the accident. According to the Crown Proceedings Act, this is in addition to the above requirements.

Discussing your claim with an experienced injury lawyer

As you can see, many different rules can come into play depending on the specific circumstances of your claim. While we have outlined some of the limitation rules that may apply, there may be other relevant rules specific to your potential claim. Because of this, we recommend that you seek legal advice regarding your motor vehicle accident as soon as reasonably possible. Doing so will ensure that you are not barred from seeking compensation that you deserve.

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MacGillivray Law is a personal injury law firm with offices in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. We serve clients all across Canada.

If you cannot travel to one of our offices, we will accommodate your circumstances and travel needs. We can provide a consultation by phone, Zoom, or FaceTime, or travel to meet you in your home when required.

If you would like to learn your legal options at no obligation, contact us today to set up a free consultation.

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