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How long do I have to sue? What’s the limitation period for personal injury actions in Ontario?

We recieve many calls at our office from accident victims who want to know how long they have to sue for damages arising from their accident. You have 2 years from the date you knew or ought to have known you have a cause of action. The date that you knew or ought to have known you have a cause of action, is, more often than not, 2 years from the date of the accident. The limitation period to bring your action is set out in an Ontario statute called the Limitations Act, 2002. The Limitations Act, 2002 replaced the old Limitations Act. There is little a lawyer can do to change the limitation periods as set out in the statute, aside from present your case in such a way to show that your case was in fact commenced within the limitation period.

If you try to sue outside of a limitation period, the insurer will likely attend before the Court and seek a Judge’s persmission to have your claim struck for being brought outside of the limitation period (this is called a motion). If the insurer is sucessful, not only will your claim be struck, but there’s also a good chance that you will have to pay for the insurer’s legal costs for bringing your claim outside of the limitation period. No Plaintiff lawyer wants this to happen to their client; especially when they know their client can’t afford to pay for the insurer’s legal costs.

Ignorance of a limitation period is not a defence. Even if you are newcomer to Canada, and you have no idea how limitation periods work or what they are; this will not protect you.

Certain cases have special limitation periods. Suing a City or a Municipality requires that you give written notice to that City or Muncipality within 10 days from the date of the accident. We often see this in slip & fall cases on city sidewalks. Failure to give written notice to the City or Municipality within 10 days from the date of the accident, while not fatal to your claim, may jeopardize it from being advanced. After you’ve given your 10 days written notice, you then have 2 years from the date of the accident to sue.

We often tell our clients NOT TO WAIT to contact a lawyer after their accident. The longer you wait, the greater the risk that your case will be jeopardized and important evidence will be lost or destroyed. Getting pictures from the accident scene, collecting the names and contact information of any witnesses, gathering records, and having experts examine an accident scene is always easier shortly after the accident instead of later. We have seen many cases where important records have been destroyed, or the accident scene had changed because the accident victim waited too long to report the accident to their lawyer; and by the time their lawyer started investigating the accident, nothing was the same or crucial evidence was lost. We recommend to clients to report their accidents early, and do their own detective work right away. Take pictures, get names and contact information of witnesses. Make sure this important evidence doesn’t get lost.

Brian Goldfinger is the directing lawyer of Goldfinger Personal Injury Law. He practices exclusively on behalf of seriously injured accident victims, disability claimants and their families. He is dedicated to his clients and knows how to get them the results they deserve. Call Brian today for your free consultation 416-730-1777.

THIS ARTICLE IS NOT INTENDED TO BE LEGAL ADVICE AND DOES NOT CREATE A SOLICITOR-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

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