How much time do you have to start a case for a legal claim in British Columbia?
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What you should know
If you have a legal claim that can go to a court or a tribunal, the case almost always has to be started within a set period of time.
After this time runs out, a court or tribunal can refuse your claim, no matter how strong your case would have been.
The time limit is called a “limitation period.” It’s like a countdown that only stops once a case is started with the Civil Resolution Tribunal or a court.
Different limitation periods
Limitation periods are different for different claims. They often come from the Limitation Act. This law sets the countdown for many cases at 2 years.
But some claims have limitation periods shorter than 2 years. For example, the limitation period for a claim against a city or municipality might be as short as 2 months. They can also be longer. For example, you might have up to 10 years to enforce a court judgment.
Some claims don’t have limitation periods. For example, the countdown might not apply for claims for assault or sexual misconduct involving minors, people in intimate relationships, or people in dependent relationships.
Changes to limitation periods
A court or tribunal might decide to extend a limitation period because the person with the claim couldn’t have found out about it before the countdown finished.
A limitation period can also change if the person who caused the harm or loss does something to confirm the other person’s right to make a claim.
To avoid problems with limitation periods, it’s best to answer these questions:
- How long is the limitation period for my claim?
- When did my limitation period start to count down?
- When will my limitation period run out?
We can’t answer these questions for you in the Solution Explorer. Sometimes they can only really be answered by having a tribunal or court decide them. Until then, the best help will come from a lawyer.
Limitation periods and the Solution Explorer
The limitation period will be counting down while you use the Solution Explorer. It will only stop when your case has been started in the Civil Resolution Tribunal or a court.
What you can do
Let’s say you think you have a claim. But you aren’t sure about the limitation period. Here are steps people might take in your situation:
- Get help from a lawyer to learn about the limitation period
- Start the case as soon as possible – before time runs out
- Try to gather more information about the limitation period that applies to the case
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