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Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Claims

Injured person signing paperwork

In Ontario, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is governed by the Limitations Act, 2002, SO 2002, c 24, Sch B. This legislation outlines the time frame within which individuals must commence legal proceedings for various types of claims, including personal injury cases.

Generally, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in Ontario is two years from the date of the accident or incident which caused the injury, after which date any claims for damages are statute-barred. There are also some important considerations and exceptions to be aware of:

  1. Discoverability Rule: The two-year limitation period typically begins to run from the date the injury is discovered or when the injured person should have become aware of it through reasonable diligence. In a personal injury claim arising out of a motor vehicle accident, a plaintiff will have not discovered his claim until he knows that he has a substantial chance to succeed in recovering a judgment for damages, which involves both a consideration of the statutory deductible under the Insurance Act, and whether the plaintiff is aware that they have suffered a serious and permanent injury (see: St. Marthe v. O’Connor, 2019 ONSC 1585).
  2. Minors: For individuals under the age of 18, the limitation period does not start until they reach the age of majority, or until a litigation guardian is appointed to represent the individual in relation to the claim.
  3. Mentally Incapacitated Individuals: Similar to minors, for individuals who are mentally incapacitated at the time of injury or due to the injury, the limitation period begins to run from the date the individual is no longer incapacitated, or until a litigation guardian is appointed to represent the individual in relation to the claim.
  4. Municipal Claims: Under s. 44(10) of the Municipal Act, SO 2001, c 25, no claims for damages can be brought against a municipality for damages suffered due to improper maintenance of roads or bridges unless notice is provided to the municipality within 10 days of the injury. This means that even if a claim is issued within two years of the date of loss, it may be statute barred if improper notice was provided.
  5. Slip and Fall on Ice: Under s.6.1(1) of the Occupiers’ Liability Act, RSO 1990, c O.2, no claims for damages can be brought for damages suffered due to snow or ice unless notice is provided to the occupier or independent contractor employed to remove the snow or ice on the premises within 60 days of the occurrence of the injury.
  6. Medical Malpractice Claims: Generally, the two-year limitation period for medical malpractice claims starts from the date of the negligent act or omissions that caused the injury. However, in cases of continuous treatment, the limitation period may start from the last date of treatment.
  7. Ultimate Limitation Period: Once 15 years passes from the date of the act or omission which caused a claim for damages, no claims can be made. For example, if a contractor improperly installs roofing on your house. 15 years and 1 day passes, and suddenly the roof starts to leak! Even if it is crystal clear that the improper installation was the cause of the leak, no claims for damages can be made against the contractor.

As you can see, when suing a party for damages suffered, you must be mindful not only of the limitation periods at play, but also the notice requirements and procedural rules that apply to your particular claim. Failing to adhere to these requirements can have serious consequences, including the dismissal of your claim. It is for this reason that is it essential to understand the application of the discoverability principle, which can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. The nature of your injuries, medical treatment, extent of damages, and awareness/diligence in seeking information about your injuries can influence when the limitation period begins. Discoverability allows injured parties to pursue legal claims even when their damages are not immediately apparent at the time of the accident. However, it is always best to start a claim within two years, as the onus is on the claimant to show why the two-year limitation period was not met. As such, as soon as you are injured, it is important to consult a qualified lawyer who can ensure that all procedural requirements are met for your claim.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact our team at JEWELL RADIMISIS JORGE LLP for a free consultation.

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