Demystifying the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations: Why It Might Not Be Too Late To Sue - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Demystifying the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations: Why It Might Not Be Too Late To Sue


Few things are more difficult for a personal injury lawyer than meeting with someone who has suffered serious injuries through the negligence of another party and having to tell them they waiting too long before consulting a lawyer and their clam for compensation is barred by the statute of limitations. Although intended to promote fairness by encouraging people with claims to assert them before memories of witnesses fade and evidence is lost or destroyed, it might not appear fair to an accident victim struggling to understand the statute of limitations for the first time.

Ontario Limitations Act

The basic premise behind a statute of limitations is that once you become aware that another party is responsible for causing you to suffer a serious injury you should take steps to pursue the claim for compensation. Delaying impairs the ability of the other party to engage in the following activities in preparation of defending against the claim:

  • Conducting a timely investigation of the accident
  • Interviewing and taking statements from witnesses
  • Photographing and collecting evidence at the accident scene

Preparing a proper defense can be impaired with the passage of time when it could become impossible to see the scene as it existed when the accident occurred. Witnesses move away or forget details of what they saw or heard, so taking written statements from them as soon after the incident they witnessed is essential to preserving their testimony for trial.

Under the Ontario Limitations Act, the general statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of discovery of the claim. A lawsuit filed after the expiration of two years is subject to dismissal by the court.

If you believe you waited too long to file a lawsuit for injuries suffered through the fault of another party, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer before throwing up your hands and giving up. The use of language referring to the date of discovery of a claim in the Limitations Act could, depending upon the nature of your injuries, mean you still have time to bring a lawsuit.

The Discovery Rule for Determining the Limitation Period

Some personal injury claims are easily identified when they occur. There is little doubt that the date of discovery of the broken leg you suffered when your bicycle was hit by a distracted driver is the date of the accident. Other claims are not as obvious. For example, the effects of a surgeon’s mistake that left a surgical instrument in your body might not be discovered for several years after the surgery.

The law computes the limitation period from the earlier of either the date you discovered the injury or the date on which a reasonable person would have discovered it. There is, however, an ultimate limitation period that prevents claims from being brought more than 15 years after the event or incident regardless of how long it took to discover them.

Tolling the Limitation Period

Limitation periods do not begin to run in cases in which the person with the claim is a minor who is not represented by a litigation guardian. The same is true in cases in which the individual with a claim for damages is physically or mentally incapable to commencing a lawsuit.

Ontario Personal Injury Lawyers

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond & Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation by people suffering injuries through the negligent conduct of other parties. If you suffer an injury and need to file a claim, you should speak to one of our lawyers. Call the Diamond & Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims throughout Ontario.

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