20 Jul Suing a Municipality and Notice Requirements

Personal injury cases against municipalities may occur when someone gets hurt after tripping on an uneven sidewalk.  You need to be aware that there are strict requirements to notify the municipality.  In most cases, you must notify the municipality within 60 days.  If you do not notify the municipality before this deadline, then you will likely be unable to sue the municipality.  There is a limited exception to this rule.  If you can prove that you have a reasonable excuse for the late notice and there is no prejudice to the municipality because of the delay, then a court may allow the lawsuit.

The Court considered this exception in in Kazemi v. North Vancouver (City), 2016 BCSC 1240.  The Plaintiff was 68 years old at the time of the incident.  She had immigrated to Canada a few months earlier and only spoke Farsi.  She explained the delay occurred because she did not speak English and relied on her son.  She hired a lawyer a month after the notice period expired but the lawyer did not notify the municipality.  There was no evidence from the lawyer regarding the failure to provide notice.  The Plaintiff’s son also did not give evidence to explain the delay.  The municipality did not receive notice until the Plaintiff hired another lawyer, who provided notice six months after the incident.

The Court rejected the Plaintiff’s argument that there was a reasonable excuse for the delay.  There was no evidence that her age negatively impacted her ability to provide notice before the deadline.  While her recent immigrant status and lack of English may have explained the delay, there was evidence that she had been advised to lodge a complaint.  Overall, the Court found that an initial delay due to the language barrier and lack of knowledge regarding the notice requirement may have explained an initial delay, but there was no evidence to justify the long delay after the first lawyer was hired.

Don’t let this happen to you.  If you are injured and a municipality may be at fault, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.  Strict notice periods may apply.  If you miss them, you may be unable to sue for compensation.202