The big deadline for most ICBC claims is two years after the accident. This is the BC limitation date for a tort claim (i.e. the claim against the other driver). If your accident occurred outside BC, then a different set of deadlines may apply and you should consult a lawyer as soon as possible.
If you fail to start a lawsuit (i.e. file a Notice of Civil Claim in a BC Courthouse Registry), then your claim may be barred. Also, you should not wait until the eve of the deadline to see a lawyer, because most lawyers will refuse to take a case that is too close to the two year deadline. The reason is that it can often take weeks to find out who should be named as parties in the lawsuit.
Filing an ICBC Claim After Two Years
Exceptional circumstances might allow you to start a lawsuit after two years, but they are pretty rare. Some examples include:
- You were under the age of majority (19) at the time of the accident.
- You suffered latent (hidden) injuries that only became apparent well after the accident.
- You only learned the identity of the driver who caused your injuries well after the accident.
- You had a life-threatening condition that precluded you from pursuing your ICBC claim.
- You elected to receive WorksafeBC benefits (i.e. the accident occurred while you were working), and WorksafeBC chose not to pursue an ICBC claim.
- ICBC or the defendant admitted fault for the accident and/or paid you damages for the accident, but you did not sign a release.
Other ICBC Deadlines
While you have two years to file a lawsuit for most claims, some cases have shorter deadlines:
- If you plan to sue a city or town (including people employed by the city or town), you may need to give them notice within 2 months of the accident, and start the lawsuit within 6 months.
- If you intend to claim under the hit & run fund, you must notify ICBC within 6 months.
Your insurer may have its own deadlines. For example, when claiming no fault benefits from ICBC, you are required to:
- Notify ICBC as soon as reasonably possible
- Provide a statement to ICBC within 30 days of the accident
- Fill out a CL22 and submit it to ICBC within 90 days of the accident
You may have additional coverage (e.g. through your employer or your spouse’s employer), and that coverage may require you to notify the insurance company of the motor vehicle accident within a certain amount of time.
There may be other deadlines that have not been covered here. The safest thing to do is to consult with an ICBC lawyer promptly after the accident. Even if you think you may be out of time, go ahead and give us a call.