In the immediate aftermath of an accident, people are often dealing with their injuries, trauma and the related disruption to their lives. If you have suffered from injuries due to an accident or someone’s negligence, the last thing you probably want to think about is beginning a legal claim. Unfortunately, claimants who wait too long can find themselves unable to advance their claim because they have missed an important limitation period.
Limitation periods are legally enforced deadlines for bringing a claim. Failing to bring an action within the relevant limitation period can put an end to your action before it begins. In this blog, we will discuss limitation periods as they apply to personal injury claims in Ontario. If you think you may have a personal injury claim, it’s important to speak with an experienced lawyer sooner rather than later to ensure you preserve your right to bring a claim by doing so within the deadline.
What Limitation Periods Do I Need to Know About For My Ontario Personal Injury Claim?
Limitation periods set out a time limit for filing legal proceedings relating to an accident claim. Under Ontario’s Limitations Act, in most circumstances, you will need to initiate a claim within two years of the date the accident occurred.
There are exceptions to the two-year rule, however. For instance, the two-year limitation period does not apply if the claimant is a minor or is physically, mentally, or psychologically unable to begin proceedings and is not represented by a legal guardian. There may be other exceptions depending on the unique circumstances of your claim.
For instance, different rules apply for different types of accidents. If you are injured due to the negligence of a municipality, you must act very quickly. Under the Municipal Act, claimants must provide written notice within 10 business days. Again, there are certain exceptions, including in cases where the negligence results in death.
If you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident, a shortened limitation period could also apply. See our previous blog post about recent amendments to the Occupier’s Liability Act, which outlined the new rules requiring claimants to provide notice within 60 days of an accident.
What Steps Do I Need to Take To Meet The Limitation Period?
Different steps are required in different actions. For instance, under the Limitations Act, you are required to file and serve your notice of claim (the legal document filed with the court that outlines your claim and starts your legal action) on the defendants within the two-year limitation period. Under the Municipal Act, 2001, you will need to provide written notice to the municipality within 10 days of the injury. After that, you will still need to file and serve a notice of claim.
How Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected Limitation Periods in Ontario?
Like many other aspects of Ontario’s legal system, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way claims are handled. In 2020, the Ontario government temporarily suspended limitation periods and procedural deadlines from March 16, 2020, until September 14, 2020. This means, for example, that if you were involved in an accident on March 13, 2020, the approximately six-month suspension period will not be counted toward the two-year limitation period and you will have an additional 26 weeks to file and serve your notice of claim.
What These Rules Mean for Personal Injury Claimants
Litigation can be a daunting process, especially when you aren’t familiar with the legal rules that might apply to your particular situation. Furthermore, injuries or other losses arising from personal injury claims don’t always appear right away. This can be a problem when limitation periods are at play. Regardless of whether you are experiencing pain or injury, you should always consult with medical professionals if you’ve been involved in an accident.
You should also consult with a skilled personal injury lawyer soon after an accident to ensure you understand any time limits you may be facing and preserve your right to a claim. Speaking with a lawyer early on does not mean you’ll need to bring a claim immediately, but it will ensure you are aware of your specific timing requirements in the event you need to bring a claim at some point.
Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Eastern Ontario and North Bay
At Tierney Stauffer LLP, our personal injury lawyers have over 35 years of experience advocating for those who have been injured in accidents, or through the negligence or abuse of others. You can rest assured that we will make you aware of any deadlines you may be facing, and help you advance your claim when the time is right.
We recognize that no two personal injury incidents are the same. We provide each client with personalized attention and tailor our strategy for each case in order to bring about the best possible resolution. Our focus is on ensuring our clients receive the best possible outcome that will provide for them over the long term if necessary. Call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to set up a free consultation to discuss your matter with a member of our team.