A Statement of Claim is a legal notice to the party at fault for an accident that you (the “Plaintiff”) plan to take legal action against them (the “Defendant”). This document summarizes the material facts supporting your claim and outlines the damages you are claiming. The Statement of Claim will be filed in a required form with the Alberta Courts.
Limitation Periods in Alberta
For personal injury claims in Alberta, a Statement of Claim must generally be filed within two years from the date of the accident (e.g., a motor vehicle accident) that gave rise to your injuries. This is called a limitation period. A limitation period is a deadline that you cannot miss if you want to seek compensation from the party that you believe is responsible for your injuries and losses.
Limitation periods encourage parties to file their claims as soon as possible. This helps ensure that evidence is collected and memories are accurate. They also ensure that the accident victim recover fair compensation for their injuries without extending the threat of legal action for too long against the defendant.
There are a number of special situations that can change the limitation period. These limitations include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- Claims that involve minors. In Alberta, the limitation period for personal injury claims doesn’t begin until the minor turns 18. If a minor is 16 when the injury occurred, the limitation period will not end until the plaintiff turned 20.
- Claims where the claimant is under disability and unable to manage their claim.
- Claims where the actions are fraudulently concealed.
It is important to note that the Limitation Act does state that “a potential defendant may cause the limitation periods provided by this Act to run against a minor by”
- Delivering a notice to proceed in the prescribed form to
- A guardian of the minor, if the minor has a guardian and
- The Public Trustee,
- Paying the Public Trustee’s prescribed fee.
This means that the a plaintiff can be served a notice through the minor’s guardian and Public Trustee, which can effectively bring the limitation period to two years..
Limitation periods can be complex.e recommend consulting with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer with CAM LLP can review your case, and ensure that you don’t miss filing any deadlines.
Service of Statement of Claim
Once your Statement of Claim is filed, it must be personally served upon the Defendant(s). This means hiring a process server who will personally hand the Statement of Claim to the Defendant(s) and provide you (or your lawyer) with proof that service on the Defendant(s) has been completed.
Usually, as a courtesy, a copy of the Statement of Claim will also be sent to your insurer. If it is in your best interest to move your claim into the litigation process quickly, your lawyer will demand a Statement of Defence from the Defendant(s) shortly after your Statement of Claim has been served. If, however, it’s likely that a settlement can be achieved directly with the at-fault party’s insurer, negotiations may continue without a Statement of Defence needing to be filed.
Disclosure of Records
Once a Statement of Claim and a Statement of Defence have been filed, the next step is for the parties to exchange documentation about about your accident, injuries, and losses. This preliminary disclosure is an exchange of information that will aid in condensing the dispute issues and ultimately encourage the parties to think forward about a resolution.
Alberta’s legal system is structured around an adversarial process, but it is not acceptable to move a case to trial by blindsiding the opposition. All parties are required to exchange Affidavits that list all relevant and material records related to liability and damages issues in the case, including documents, records, photographs, videotapes. Your personal injury lawyer will advise which records are privileged and don’t have to be exchanged, but typically most records must be disclosed even if they don’t help your case.