By: Emily Prieur

Overview

  • If you are injured in an accident due to the actions of another, and want to sue, there is a time limit to file your lawsuit
  • The time limits for making a claim are referred to as statutes of limitations, if you miss a legal deadline you will not be able to file the lawsuit and therefore miss the chance to be compensated for your injuries
  • The time limit for most personal injury cases is two years after the date you were injured, but there are exceptions and other timelines that must be considered

What is the Timeframe for a Personal Injury Claim?

The statute of limitations for personal injury claims is set out in theOntario Limitations Act.The general rule is that the statute of limitations for the majority of personal injury cases is two years after the date the accident occurred. [i]  

Exceptions to the Two-Year Limitation

There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, there are deadlines imposed by your insurance company that should be followed and additional deadlines related to filing a claim. You must let the other driver know within three months of your intent to file a claim [ii]. The limitation for filing a claim for damage to your car must be made within one year and the claim related to personal injury must be made within two years.

If your claim is against the government, for example, you slip and injure yourself on a slippery sidewalk or your car plunges into a deep pothole on the highway, there are limitations for notifying the appropriate government department. These limitations are typically ten days but may be different depending on which government you are dealing with [iii].

Another possible exception to the two-year limitations is for personal injury claims due to medical malpractice or medical conditions that are not immediately known. In some cases, an injury may not be immediately apparent, or your condition my worsen. In this situation the two-year limit may be extended from the date you were aware of the extent of the injury or would have been reasonably aware of the injury [iii].

Why is there a Limit to Making a Claim?

The reasoning behind the statute of limitations is to ensure fairness and to allow the other party the opportunity to investigate the claim. The other party must be aware of the claim in order to refresh their memory of the incident and to investigate. The other party will want to speak to witnesses and collect evidence in a timely manner in order to determine if they should indeed compensate you for your injuries or present a defense to your claim [iv].

Why is knowing this timeframe important?

Acting on your personal injury case as quickly as possible is important to allow your lawyer time to gather information and prepare the claim to be filed.[v] There may be additional special circumstances that apply to your case that your lawyer can investigate and tell you about. There are different rules that apply for cases involving children and mentally incapacitated individuals. These exceptions can be uncovered by discussing your case with your lawyer. [vi]

Conclusion

  • You should contact your lawyer as soon as you suspect you may have a personal injury claim. Claims may be much more complex and require significant documentation and research. The time required by your lawyer to research and prepare your case must be accounted for in your time calculations.
  • Be aware that limitations for filing claims exist and that some time limits are quite short, for example, if your claim is against a government organization.

Works Cited

[i] Limitations Act, 2002, S.O, c. 24, Sched. B Section 5(1)

[ii] Limitations Act, 2002, S.O, c. 24, Sched. B Section 4

[iii] Injury Lawyers of Ontario “Accidents Caused By Municipal Negligence

[iv] Nadia Condotta, “Demystifying the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations: Why It Might Not Be Too Late To Sue” (17 January 2019)

[v] Elaine Bright “How Long Do I Have To Sue? Limitation Periods” (30 April 2020)

[vi] Preszler Injury Lawyers “How Much Time Do I Have To File My Slip And Fall Claim?”