The Toronto personal injury lawyers at Verkhovets Law know that when personal injury accidents happen, they can lead to devastating consequences – both physically and financially. In Ontario, seeking compensation through a personal injury claim can be an option for those who suffer harm due to another party’s negligence or wrongdoing.
Our Toronto personal injury lawyers warn, however, that in these types of legal matters you have a limited amount of time to launch a civil lawsuit in the Superior Court of Justice – so it’s important that you know how long after an accident you can sue.
Let’s use a few different types of injuries as examples:
- Liz’s car was T-boned by a speeding truck that ran a red light. The impact left her with a serious Spinal Cord Injury and severe head trauma.
- Jason had a Slip and Fall Accident on a wet floor in a store, crashing into a display stand, sustaining a fractured hip, and a Traumatic Brain injury (TBI).
- Emma toppled from a ladder while working at an amusement park resulting in multiple broken bones, a severe neck injury, and permanent nerve damage.
Our Toronto personal injury lawyer, Mariya Verkhovets, says that while these personal injury accidents have different fact scenarios and injury outcomes, they have one thing in common: those injured have two years to sue from the date of an accident.
The time limit is serious: if you miss it, your claim is probably dead in the water. The good news is the matter doesn’t have to be final within two years, just launched by then.
But our Toronto personal injury lawyers note it’s not quite that simple – there are other deadlines and legal technicalities. For example, under the discoverability rule the clock doesn’t start ticking until or when the injured party first becomes aware of the injury, loss, or damage resulting from the accident. The Supreme Court of Canada in Grant Thornton LLP v New Brunswick 2021 SCC 31, further clarified the test of discoverability that the clock starts to run when the plaintiff has enough information to know that the defendant was probably at fault.
Bottom line: working with the Toronto personal injury lawyers at Verkhovets Law ensures you’ll meet the time deadlines to protect your ability to collect the compensation you deserve from your insurance company or the party responsible for your injury.
Know your deadlines, says our Toronto personal injury lawyer
The Toronto personal injury lawyers at Verkhovets Law explain there’s a variety of personal injury causes of action recognized by the courts in Ontario, each with specific facts which, if proven, entitle the injured person to seek compensation by filing a statement of claim and going to trial or negotiated settlement.
4 of the many types of personal injury claims handled by our Toronto personal injury lawyers include:
Our Toronto personal injury lawyers note it’s essential to understand that the right to sue based on a cause of action is not unrestricted: this right is subject to certain limitations, including time constraints.
The statute of limitations provides the legal time frame within which a plaintiff must file a lawsuit after an accident or incident occurs, says our Toronto personal injury lawyer. In Ontario, this limitation period is governed by the province’s Limitations Act (LA), and its primary purpose is to ensure that legal disputes are resolved in a timely manner, preventing evidence deterioration, and ensuring fairness in the judicial process.
Under the Act, the general limitation period for starting personal injury claims is two years. However, there are some exceptions and nuances to be aware of depending on the type of personal injury accident and the parties involved. For example, Car Accident claims have additional time limits within the litigation process.
Our Toronto personal injury lawyer explains a claimant has seven days to notify the insurer of a car accident in order to apply for Statutory Accident Benefits (SABS). Then, the insurer has to provide the claimant with the appropriate application forms and relevant information about the benefits which can be available. Next, a completed application must be forwarded within 30 days. The SABS claim is separate from a lawsuit and doesn’t stop you from filing one.
If the insurance company declines paying a benefit or treatment claimed under the SABS, you have two years from that date to appeal to the License Appeals Tribunal.
But our Toronto personal injury lawyers note, there’s another important deadline tucked into the lawsuit process: you must give written notice of your intention to sue within 120 days (three months) of the car accident to the at-fault driver.
Clock starts when an injury is discovered
The Toronto personal injury lawyers at Verkhovets Law know one of the exceptions to the two-year deadline to sue is the discoverability principle which applies when the plaintiff is not immediately aware of their injury, it’s seriousness, or cause following an accident. In such cases, the limitation period does not begin until the plaintiff discovers, or should have reasonably discovered, the injury or its link to the accident.
This rule exists to protect individuals who may have sustained injuries that are not immediately apparent, such as internal injuries or latent health issues, says our Toronto personal injury lawyer.
For example, consider a situation where a victim is involved in a car accident, but symptoms of a Brain Injury only manifest several months later. In this case, the limitation period would start from the time the victim became aware of the injury, not the date of the actual accident.
But our Toronto personal injury lawyers note nothing lasts forever and that includes ultimate time limits for lawsuits. Remember, s.15 of the Act provides that no claim can be launched after the 15th anniversary of the day the alleged act or omission took place.
2 exceptions: minors and persons under disability
Ontario’s Limitations Act accounts for minors (individuals under 18 years of age) at the time of an accident: the limitation period does not begin until they reach the age of majority (18 years old). Similarly, our Toronto personal injury lawyers note that for individuals under a disability, such as mental incapacitation, the limitation period may be suspended until they are no longer under the disability.
But, while minors can’t file a lawsuit, one can be launched for them in the meantime.
That means an adult – typically a parent or close family member – is appointed by the court to be the litigation guardian who makes the necessary decisions involved in the civil action for a minor or mentally or physically incapable person, say our Toronto personal injury lawyers.
The duties of the guardian are set out in Rule 7.05 (2) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, and they are not to act in their own interest. Once appointed, the guardian must adhere to the same time limit rules as in the Limitations Act, from that point onward.
4 points must be included in municipal notice, says our Toronto personal injury lawyer
When the government or a government entity is involved in an accident or negligent action, special rules may apply with respect to time frames for filing a lawsuit, says the Toronto personal injury lawyers at Verkhovets Law.
If you wish to sue a municipality you must, under 44(10) of the Municipal Act (MA), inform of your intention to file a claim, in writing, within ten days of the accident.
The notice must include these 4 points:
- Your name
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- How the accident happened
But, if you miss the deadline, there is an exception if a judge finds that there is a reasonable excuse for the delay and that the municipality hasn’t been prejudiced. Another exception is if the injured person dies as a result of the injury, giving rise to a Wrongful Death Claim.
Our Toronto personal injury lawyers note in Graham v. City of Toronto the Ontario Court of Appeal outlines what is considered a reasonable excuse; the court held the plaintiff’s claim could proceed despite the notice being filed three months after the accident because she was waiting to see if her injuries would get better, she did not know about the notice requirement, and the delay didn’t prejudice the city.
Snowy slip and falls: you’re frozen out after 60 days
The Toronto personal injury lawyers at Verkhovets law note, the Occupier’s Liability Act was amended in late 2020 to include a new provision for injuries caused by snow and ice on privately-owned property. Now an injured person must give written notice of their claim within 60 days of being injured.
The law says the notice should include the date, time, and location of the incident and be given to the occupier and any contractor responsible for snow removal.
Prior to this change the usual two-year limit applied so our Toronto personal injury lawyers flag this as one you need to know.
Call or email our Toronto personal injury lawyers
The Toronto personal injury lawyers at Verkhovets Law understand the two-year limitation period serves as a crucial time frame for individuals seeking compensation for injuries and damages – but there are tricky exceptions.