How long do I have to sue after a serious car accident?
May 4, 2022
You’ve been injured and you need to know how long you have to sue after a serious car accident. Below, we help you answer the questions of how long after an accident can you sue in Canada and the discuss the car accident limitation period for Ontario.
An injured accident victim should not wait very long to start their civil compensation claim for a car accident claim suing an at-fault driver. The basic limitation period of two years does have some exceptions, but the longer you delay, the more challenging your case may become.
How long after a car accident can I sue in Ontario?
The limitation period varies by case and by type of claim.
Typically, the limitation countdown starts running from the date of the accident itself.
Guidelines for limitation periods after you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident:
- Inform the police within 24 hours
- Notify your insurance company within 7 days
- Make statutory accident benefits claim within 30 days
- Notice of claim against a province or municipality must be given within 10 days from the day of the injury or accident
- Notice of possible claim for a civil suit should be made as early as possible. This helps the court to determine when the limitation period started.
- Personal injury lawsuit submitted within 2 years from the date of the accident
Slippery or unrepaired private roads have a limitation period of 2 years. If the accident involved municipal property, a written notice of claim should be submitted within 10 days of the accident to preserve your ability to make a claim within the 2-year limit.
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Even when you have a strong case, your claim is likely to be denied once the limitation period expires. The court has no duty to extend the limitation period unless the injured party had unusual circumstances that prevented them from filing a claim.
It is therefore essential that you talk to a lawyer regarding any potential claim. Our team performs in-depth investigation and research to advise you on the appropriate action.
How can you fall foul of the car accident limitation period in Ontario?
Two years can seem like a long time for the car accident limitation period in Ontario, but accident victims cannot afford to wait too long to start a claim to get the legal process started. Not being proactive about seeking legal advice can result in losing your personal injury case.
Consequences of waiting too long:
- Defending counsel may argue that there is unfair prejudice toward their clients and get the case dismissed
- Evidence is destroyed, witnesses cannot be contacted, or their memory of the event has faded
- Your arguments lose strength after the conclusion of fire department, police and EMS investigations
- Limitation periods have expired and even winning cases will be dismissed if the claim is not started within the timeline
There are also cases where you didn’t believe you needed to make a claim immediately.
- Perhaps your injuries did not manifest until some time after the accident
- They were not immediately connected to the car accident, or
- You discovered too late that the insurance settlement for a car accident compensation amount was insufficient.
What to do if you are suing over two years after the car accident in Ontario?
A person who has been injured generally has a maximum of 2 years from the date of the accident to file a claim.
There are exceptions to the rule. If the injured person is a minor (under 18), or is not capable because of a physical, mental or psychological condition, a claim can be started by a litigation guardian and the 2-year period won’t start at the time of the accident.
There could also be delays due to criminal prosecutions, a realization that the injury was caused by an act of omission, or there may have been medical complications that had not been resolved within the 2-year period.
What can you do?
If the date on which you first realized that you needed to start a lawsuit for damages and losses suffered from the injury is past the time limitations, it may be possible to argue when you discovered this.
‘Discoverability’ is a general rule applied to avoid the injustice of precluding an action before the person can raise it. If you had not discovered a claim within the limitations, you may be able to remedy your loss.
It’s advisable that you get in touch with a lawyer immediately to understand if you have a claim.
Here is what you should do after a car accident
Retain an experienced lawyer to advise you on what you should report and to assist you through the claims process. Most drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists are eligible for no-fault benefits if they have been hurt in an accident.
Be sure to apply for these benefits as soon as possible. Take action to recover financial compensation for your medical expenses, rehabilitation costs and other losses, like lost wages.
When you are suing after a car accident in Ontario, be ready to provide evidence to determine fault, like police reports, witnesses, photographs, medical expenses, etc.
Courts do have some leeway to admit a car accident claim after the limitation period has expired in cases where there were issues or considerations that delayed or restricted the claimant from making a timely claim. In such cases, the court will allow a car accident survivor to argue why the limitation period started later than the date of the accident itself.
Book a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your accident, your legal options, how much you can sue for the car accident, or if someone can sue you for a car accident if you have insurance.