Limitation Periods and Lawsuits: Don’t Wait Too Long to Consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a family member have been injured in a car accident, a slip and fall, a boating accident, or any other unexpected incident, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer as soon as you are able to. Under Ontario law there are strict timelines, known as limitation periods, within which you can file a lawsuit to obtain financial compensation for any losses or damages you have suffered due to your injury. Claims filed outside of the designated time frames may not be permitted.
General Limitation Periods
Two-Year Limitation Period
In Ontario, the Limitations Act governs most limitation periods. This legislation outlines a basic two-year limitation period, meaning that a lawsuit must be commenced within two years of the day on which the claim was “discovered”.
Under the Limitations Act:
5(1) A claim is discovered on the earlier of,
- the day on which the person with the claim first knew,
- that the injury, loss or damage had occurred,
- that the injury, loss or damage was caused by or contributed to by an act or omission,
- that the act or omission was that of the person against whom the claim is made, and
- that, having regard to the nature of the injury, loss or damage, a proceeding would be an appropriate means to seek to remedy it; and
- the day on which a reasonable person with the abilities and in the circumstances of the person with the claim first ought to have known of the matters referred to in clause (a).
While this may seem straightforward, it can be challenging to determine when the “discoverability clock” starts ticking. For instance, a significant length of time may go by between your accident and when you begin to exhibit symptoms such as pain or other health problems that may be attributed to what happened to you weeks or months beforehand. Discoverability is ultimately a question of fact to be determined by the court.
Ultimate Fifteen-Year Limitation Period
Since there are several factors which can complicate when the time to file a lawsuit starts running, and there may be a significant period of time that passes between when an accident occurs and when a claim is filed, the Limitations Act also provides for an ultimate 15-year limitation period.
This creates a constraint preventing someone from filing a claim any later than fifteen years after the day on which an accident occurred. Under the ultimate limitation period, even if you discover your injury or damages more than 15 years after the underlying act or omission that led to them occurred, you are barred from suing.
Under the Limitations Act, the general limitation period for making a personal injury claim is two years. That generally means you have two years from the time of the incident to file your lawsuit.
However, if you slip, fall, or are otherwise injured on municipally-owned property, such as a city-owned parking lot or sidewalk, under the Municipal Act you must notify the municipality within 10 days of the incident, or you may not be permitted to later sue.
Notifying the municipality allows it to investigate whatever caused the incident, and repair or remove it so that others cannot injure themselves.
If you are involved in a car accident or other motor vehicle accident there are also some important timelines that are shorter than the two-year window to file a claim laid out under the Limitations Act. Complying with these timelines will preserve your rights and can protect you following the accident.
For instance, you must inform your insurance company that you have been in an accident within 7 days of that accident. After that, you must file an accident benefits claim within 30 days of your accident. If your claim for accident benefits is denied, you must take action against the insurance company within two years of the denial.
However, if you wish to sue the other driver, you must provide written notice of your intention to do so within 120 days of the accident. You then have up to two years to file a lawsuit.
Best Practices Following an Injury
Your first step following an accident or injury should be to receive prompt medical attention. You may not immediately feel hurt, or suffer any noticeable effects, however, a slip and fall, car accident, or other incident can result in serious conditions which may not present symptoms right away but could require you to miss work.
Once you see a doctor, the next step is to contact a personal injury lawyer. Consulting with a lawyer as soon as possible will protect your rights, make sure you do not run out of time to file a claim, and ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. Even if you think that too much time has passed since your accident, it is never too late to speak with a lawyer to find out more information about your case.
If you have been injured, it’s important to contact a legal professional as soon as possible to assess your claim and the compensation that you may be owed. The lawyers at Petker Campbell Postnikoff bring years of experience to helping accident victims receive fair compensation and benefits. To book a consultation with a member of our firm, call us at 519-886-1204 or contact us online.