How Long Do You Have To File Your Law Suit?

If you have had an accident or encountered some other issue that might require legal action, it is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. In British Columbia, the limitation period for starting an action is generally 2 years. The BC Limitations Act [SBC 2012] Chapter 13 (the “Act”) states:

Basic limitation period

(1) Subject to this Act, a court proceeding in respect of a claim must not be commenced more than 2 years after the day on which the claim is discovered.

The result of this section is that, subject to a few exceptions (e.g. minors or people with diminished capabilities), if you do not file a lawsuit within 2 years, you may be prevented from bringing a legal claim against the other party.

It can be difficult to determine when this 2 year period begins to run. Generally, again with a few exceptions, this 2 year period begins to run when the damage is discovered. The Act states

Except for those special situations referred to in sections 9 to 11, a claim is discovered by a person on the first day on which the person knew or reasonably ought to have known all of the following:

(a) that injury, loss or damage had occurred;

(b) that the injury, loss or damage was caused by or contributed to by an act or omission;

(c) that the act or omission was that of the person against whom the claim is or may be made;

(d) that, having regard to the nature of the injury, loss or damage, a court proceeding would be an appropriate means to seek to remedy the injury, loss or damage.

Given that the limitation period begins to run from when the action was discovered or reasonably ought to have been discovered, it can be very difficult to determine exactly when a limitation period begins to run. Due to the fact that it is not always apparent when the limitation period begins to run on an action, we recommend that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible.