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What happens when a child is harmed in a car accident? Minors (those under 19 years of age) who have been harmed in car accidents have a right to make an injury claim through ICBC. Like adults, they are entitled to no-fault benefits and may also be entitled to additional compensation through a tort claim. However, the time limits (limitation periods) that apply to the injury claims of children are different from those that apply to the injury claims of adults.
Compensation from ICBC for being injured in a car accident comes from either no-fault (or Part 7) claims and/or from tort claims.
People are entitled to no-fault benefits regardless of their fault or responsibility for the accident. ICBC no-fault benefits include some payment for rehabilitation costs for medical and physiotherapy treatments and partial wage loss replacement. It is important to note that the amounts paid by ICBC for no-fault benefits often do not cover the full cost of medical and physiotherapy treatments.
Additional compensation, for people who are at least partially not at fault for the accident, happens through a tort claim. A tort claim is intended to “make whole” a victim of an accident. Tort claim compensation includes payment for pain and suffering, and an award for wage loss and treatment costs over and above what was covered through ICBC’s no-fault benefits.
People under the age of majority in BC (under 19 years of age) are under what is called a “legal disability”. The “legal disability” is that they are unable to sue on their own behalf and must rely on a parent or guardian to do so on their behalf. Recognizing this “legal disability”, the Limitation Act provides that for a minor, their limitation period of two years usually does not begin to run until their 19th birthday, however, there are some important exceptions to this rule. While the limitation period is suspended for the tort portion of a child’s ICBC claims, the limitation period for a child’s Part 7 or no-fault benefits portion of their ICBC claim is an exception to the rule.
The clock is not stopped until the claimant’s 19th birthday, with respect to part 7 or no-fault benefits. A minor, even someone who is 10 years old for example, must sue ICBC within two years of the accident date or the last day they received no-fault benefits, or their right to no-fault or Part 7 benefits will be forever lost. That is, if ICBC refuses to pay for no-fault benefits, perhaps because they believed the injuries were caused by some event other than the car accident, then a person, regardless of age, has only two years from the date of the accident or the last day ICBC paid no-fault benefits, to preserve their limitation period for the no-fault benefits portion of the claim by filing court documents.
Parents of children injured in a motor vehicle accident should seek legal advice about their child’s legal claims from the accident and should bear in mind the limitation periods that apply to their child’s claim (both the tort and no-fault portions of their claim). Parents are responsible for protecting the legal rights of their children and should make a timely ICBC claim on their behalf if they are involved in a motor vehicle collision. If you, or your child has been involved in a motor vehicle collision, it is important to get sound legal advice. Our injury lawyers offer free consultations, can help pay for treatment when ICBC will not, do not get paid until your case is resolved and are experts in ICBC injury claims. We may be contacted at 250-888-0002 or via email.