Ontario’s Limitations Act sets a standard deadline for filing personal injury claims. It establishes a statute of limitations, called the basic limitation period, of two years. This two-year deadline applies to all personal injury claims, including car accidents, slips and falls, dog bites, and other personal injury claims, save and except sexual assault claims.
In most cases, the basic limitation period begins the day the injury occurs and runs for 24 consecutive months. If you do not file a claim against those who caused your injuries within this time period, you lose the right to do so.
Factors of the Statute
But some accident victims are not aware of their injuries on the date of the accident. If someone did not know of their injuries on the date of the incident, the basic limitation period does not begin until the date they discover – or should have discovered –their injuries.
According to the Limitations Act, a claim is counted as discovered on the following exceptions or earlier:
- The day on which the person with the claim first knew that the injury, loss or damage had occurred
- That the injury, loss or damage was caused by or contributed to by an act or omission
- That the act or omission was that of the person against whom the claim is made
- That, having regard to the nature of the injury, loss or damage, a proceeding would be an appropriate means to seek to remedy it
- The day on which a reasonable person with the abilities and in the circumstances of the person with the claim first ought to have known of the matters referred to in clause
There are a few situations that suspend the statute of limitations on personal injury claims. This applies if the victim is a minor or suffers from disabilities that affect cognitive function, and is not represented by a litigation guardian, a qualified adult who represents their interests in any legal action taken on their behalf.
Another situation that would suspend the limitation periods is when both parties agree to use a third party to settle their claim and reach a settlement.
Filing Claims Earlier
While a person may have two years to file a personal injury claim, there are some situations where they may have to give notice of a claim earlier. Most notably, this occurs if they suffer injuries on municipal, provincial, or federal property. Depending on the classification or type of property, they may need to provide notice of their claim within 10 days of the injury to the appropriate government agency.
While the basic limitation period allows injury victims two years from the date of discovery to file a claim, the Limitations Act also sets an ultimate limitation period. Someone has 15 years from the date of the injury to file a claim. This statute of limitations applies even if they do not discover their injuries until this period elapses.
There are several categories of claims that are protected as exceptions to the application of this ultimate limitation period. These exceptions include all claims for damages for sexual assault.
Contacting a Lawyer
If you need compensation to pay for treatment, lost wages, or other costs after an accident in Ontario, you are working against the clock. Skilled lawyers can help you manage the entire personal injury claims process.