Time Limits for Beginning Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
In Ontario, the Limitations Act is a piece of legislation that creates time limits for beginning civil lawsuits, including personal injury and other claims arising from negligence. In most cases, these claims need to begin within two years, and delaying a claim can be a critical mistake that may negate your right to recover damages.
A two year limitation period applies to most negligence claims
If you have been injured, or suffered a loss as the result of another person’s negligence, you may wonder whether you have any legal basis to recover damages. It can often take some time to think about what happened and who may be responsible, and you may also want to wait and see how well your injuries heal before deciding to commence litigation. However, most civil claims arising from negligence must be started within two years. If you do not begin your claim within this two-year period, your cause of action lapses and you may no longer sue for damages.
This timer begins to run on the earliest of:
- The date the accident happened; or
- The date you discovered that you had suffered an injury, which was caused by the action or omission of another person, and it would be appropriate to bring a lawsuit to recover your damages.
Why have a two-year limitation period?
The purpose of the limitation period is to allow injured parties enough time to discover the cause of their injuries and the need to pursue a civil claim for damages. However, it would be unfair to would-be defendants if their potential liability extended forever. Accordingly, a limit has to be set. Two years is considered to be sufficient time to investigate what happened and the extent of injuries and other losses to be determined.
Exceptions to the two-year limitation period
Some situations are exempted from the standard two-year limitation period. For example, where a child is injured, the two-year limitation period does not begin to run until they are no longer a minor or until they are represented by an adult who is appointed by the court to manage the claim on their behalf, called a litigation guardian. The same exception applies to anyone incapable of understanding or appreciating legal proceedings by virtue of mental, psychological or physical disability, who must also be represented by a litigation guardian.
Advice on limitations periods for victims of personal injury and negligence
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, or otherwise been the victim of another person’s negligence, don’t hesitate. Waiting too long to speak to a lawyer about your potential claim can be detrimental to your rights.
The personal injury lawyers at Derfel Injury Law have extensive experience advising injured victims about their rights.