When you are in a motor vehicle collision, even if you have not suffered personal injuries, the standard Alberta automobile policy requires that you give notice of the collision to your insurance company within 30 days of the collision, and if that is not reasonable or possible, as soon as practicable after that. This is to commence the treatment benefits and limited loss of wage benefits available under your own automobile policy known as the Section B Accident Benefits.
Car Accident Insurance Claim Time Limit
If the other party to the collision is at fault, the first and only limitation period with respect to bringing an injury claim against the party at fault is a two-year limitation period.
This two-year limitation period has long been held to be a firm limitation period. In other words, there are no excuses allowed by the injured party for not filing a Statement of Claim at the courthouse or settling the claim within two years.
However in 2011 a new regulation passed in Alberta, the Fair Practices Regulation, sought to give greater leeway to innocent injury victims. This new regulation was recently tested in a court case.
In the 2014 case of Dhillon v. Anderson 2014 ABQB 609, a Master of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench held that the limitation period would not be extended despite the injured victim pleading the Fair Practices Regulation. The Fair Practices Regulation has a section which came into force in 2011, section 5.3, which now requires an auto insurance company to give a “claimant” (the innocent injury victim), notice of the two-year limitation period within 60 days of the auto insurance company first becoming aware of the victim’s claim. Further, section 5.3(7) is an extremely important new provision as it provides that if the auto insurance company fails to give notice when required to do so, a court may, on application by the injured victim, order that the applicable limitation period be extended. This is completely new for Alberta since 2011.
Unfortunately for the injury victim in the Dhillon v. Anderson case the motor vehicle collision occurred on March 24th 2011, prior to the coming into force of the Fair Practices Regulation on July 1, 2012. Therefore the victim’s claim, since he filed his Statement of Claim more than two years after the accident, was dismissed.
The takeaway from this case and the new Fair Practices Regulation is that if you have been in a motor vehicle accident after July 1, 2012 and the insurance company for the party at fault never advised you of the two-year limitation period, and your two-year limitation period has now expired and you are still suffering injuries, you should contact legal counsel to bring an application to the court under section 5.7 of the Fair Practices Regulation for an extension of the limitation period.
As indicated earlier, this is a new aspect to the law of Alberta as prior to this the two-year limitation period was a rock-solid law in which one could never have it extended for any excuse whatsoever. The new Fair Practices Regulation provides some common sense to this area as how can a victim commence an action within two years if that victim is unaware of the two-year limitation period. The new regulation provides that the car or truck insurance company must notify the innocent victim of the limitation period and then if the victim does not file a Statement of Claim within two years or settle the injury claim within two years, then understandably the injury claim would be barred.