What Are Statutes of Limitations?

If you are injured in or near the Halifax area, now or in the future, because someone else was negligent, what is your deadline for taking legal action – that is, the deadline for filing a personal injury claim – and when should you speak with a Halifax personal injury lawyer?

In both criminal and civil law, statutes of limitations are laws that establish a time limit for legal proceedings to begin. In criminal cases, a statute of limitation prevents a prosecution for a criminal offense that was committed more than a certain number of years ago.

For example, if you committed a minor criminal offense as a juvenile, twenty or thirty years back, and got away with it, a statute of limitation prevents your life from being disrupted or ruined over an incident (that now seems relatively minor) from decades ago.

Are There Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims?

In civil compensation cases, a statute of limitation restricts the time that injury victims have to start legal proceedings in court for compensation. With several narrow exceptions, when the limitations period for a civil case expires, the claim is no longer legally valid and the injury victim no longer has legal recourse and courts cannot award any compensation.

One of the first questions your lawyer will have to answer is when the time to calculate the statute of limitations starts to run. This isn’t always obvious and making a mistake about when the limitation period started to run can mean that your time limit to file a claim may run out before you file your claim with the court. It is important to understand that, in Nova Scotia, judges have discretion to extend limitation periods in certain circumstances.

The purpose of statutes of limitations is to ensure that justice is both just and reasonably swift. Limitation periods compel the injured victims of negligence to take legal action before evidence in a case can be lost, altered, or contaminated and before the memories of the witnesses begin to fade or witnesses move or die.

What is Nova Scotia’s Statute of Limitations?

Nova Scotia’s deadline for taking legal action (the “statute of limitation period” or simply the “limitation period”) depends on the nature and details of your personal injury claim, but in most personal injury cases, the Limitations of Actions Act provides for a two-year deadline.

What injuries are covered by the two-year deadline? Examples include most traffic injuries, most injuries caused by dangerous or defective consumer items, and most premises liability injuries caused by a property owner’s negligence (such as many swimming pool and dog bite injuries).

What Are the Exceptions to the Two-Year Deadline?

However, there are several exceptions to the two-year limitation period. If you were injured in the past because someone else was negligent, and you took no legal action, you have nothing to lose by discussing your case and your options with a Nova Scotia personal injury lawyer.

There is no deadline for sexual abuse claims in Nova Scotia. So even if you were assaulted decades ago it is still possible to pursue a claim.

In Nova Scotia, for medical malpractice claims, the deadline is usually two years from the termination of medical services or when you discovered that you were injured as a result of the medical services (the dates may be different). For wrongful death cases, the limitation period is only one year!

In some cases, a limitation period may not start from the date of the negligent incident. If you sustained an unknown or difficult-to-detect injury, the limitation period may start from the date the injury was discovered. This is usually referred to as the discovery date.

Nova Scotia also has something called an ultimate limitation date that may operate to bar the claim. The Limitations of Actions Act provides for a fifteen-year maximum limitation period – even if the negligence isn’t discovered during that time. The fifteen year ultimate limitation period does not apply to sexual abuse claims, but it applies to other personal injury claims.

If you or someone you love has been injured by the negligence of another, you’ll need the legal insights and personalized advice of a Nova Scotia personal injury lawyer who will explain your rights, determine your deadlines, and discuss how the law applies to your own injury claim.

When Should You Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Determining exactly when a deadline passes for any specific injury claim may not be easy. In the Halifax area, an injured victim of negligence who has questions about the deadline for filing a claim should schedule a consultation – immediately – with a Halifax personal injury lawyer.

In fact, anyone who has been injured by another party’s negligence in Nova Scotia should arrange – as quickly as possible – to speak with a personal injury lawyer about his or her rights, legal alternatives, and deadlines for taking action.

What Compensation Can a Personal Injury Plaintiff Recover?

As an injured victim of another party’s negligence, you are entitled under the law in Nova Scotia to recover compensation for:

  1.  Pain and suffering: In many cases, an injured victim of negligence may also be compensated for the personal pain, suffering, emotional distress, anxiety, and/or depression triggered by an accident and injury.
  2.  Medical expenses: In most cases, when your personal injury claim prevails, you will recover monetary compensation for your past, current, and projected future medical costs.
  3.  Lost wages: If you’ve lost wages because you were injured, you may be compensated for those wages. You may additionally recover compensation for projected future wages you won’t be able to earn due to your injury.
  4.  Loss of pension benefits: If your injuries prevent you from working and your pension is worth less as a result, you are entitled to make a claim for the loss in value to your pension.
  5.  Loss of Housekeeping capacity: If your injuries prevent you from taking care of your household duties like doing laundry, making the bed, mowing the lawn etc, you may be entitled to compensation to hire someone to provide these services that you are unable to perform.
  6.  Extraordinary care services by family members: Usually when a family member is injured, other family members pitch in to help with child care, making meals, taking care of the injured person etc. All of these services are called “extraordinary care” because the family members are going above and beyond the normal assistance they usually provided. All of these services have value and the injured person can make a claim to compensate family and friends for the assistance they provided.
  7.  Investment management: You may require the advice of a professional advisor to help you with your financial affairs after you receive your compensation. You can make a claim for the cost of these professional services.

When an Accident Happens, What Should You Do?

If an accident happens and you’ve been injured, even before you can speak to a lawyer, you must take immediate steps to protect yourself. Summon or seek medical attention. After a traffic crash, call the police, and exchange insurance and contact information with the other motorist.

At work, report the injury at once and follow your employer’s procedure for dealing with injuries. On private property, report the injury to the manager or owner. At a retail location, restaurant, hotel, resort, or amusement park, report the injury to the management immediately.

If you have been injured as a result of medical care from a health services provider, document your injuries and request a copy of your medical records as soon as possible.

How Will Your Lawyer Handle Your Personal Injury Claim?

After you’ve been examined and treated for your injury, promptly schedule a meeting with a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer will evaluate your case honestly, and if you proceed with legal action, your lawyer will investigate the accident, examine the evidence, question the witnesses, negotiate for a fair, reasonable settlement, and if necessary, take your claim to court.

Proving fault in personal injury cases isn’t always easy, but if you seek immediate treatment, and if you have evidence and a good lawyer’s help, you’ll be in the best position to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and your other related damages and losses.

Let McKiggan Hebert Lawyers Fight for Your Rights

For over a decade, McKiggan Hebert Lawyers has fought for the rights of injured negligence victims in the Halifax area and throughout Canada. Our award-winning team of injury lawyers has established a national reputation for legal excellence and for extraordinary client service.

If we handle your injury claim, you will owe no lawyer’s fee unless and until we recover your compensation. Learn more – or launch the legal process now – by calling McKiggan Hebert Lawyers at 902-706-2298 and scheduling a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation and review.