28 Oct The Consequences of Missing the Two Year Limitation Date

In Landels v. Interior Health Authority, 2005 BCSC 1182, the Plaintiff slipped and fell on the floor of one of the Health Authority’s hospitals.  She sued the Health Authority for damages for injuries suffered in that fall. The question before the court was whether or not the Plaintiff’s case should be dismissed as it was filed seven months after the expiration of the two year limitation date.

The Plaintiff’s argument was that either the limitation period did not commence to run until a later date, or the limitation period was postponed to when she received a defining diagnosis of the nature of her injury, and an appreciation of the probable magnitude of her loss.

The judge considered that at the time of the slip and fall, the Plaintiff knew the identity of the Health Authority as the tortfeasor, knew she had injured her wrist and knew the fall was caused by the Health Authority’s breach of its duty of care.

The judge held that Plaintiff’s cause of action commenced on the day of the slip and fall. Although the gravity of the injury was not clearly defined until the following summer, or perhaps later, delayed knowledge of the extent of the injury does not alone delay the running of the limitation period.

The Plaintiff’s reluctance to initiate legal proceedings against her employer, for what was thought to be a minor injury that would heal on its own, was not a serious, significant, or compelling reason to delay the initiation of her claim for two years and seven months.

The only written communication from the Health Authority to the Plaintiff, prior to the expiry of the limitation period, was the adjuster’s letter.  A reasonable person could not take that introductory letter to be an admission of liability for the slip and fall.

Two years after the slip and fall, the Plaintiff no longer had a right to bring this action.  As a result, her action was dismissed, with costs payable to the Defendant.