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Information on Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases

If you watch enough television shows, then you will hear the phrase “statute of limitations” mentioned over and over again. The phrase refers to the period of time that a case can be brought against someone for an incident or crime committed. For example, in the United States, there is no statute of limitations for the crime of murder. If you commit a murder in the United States, you can be tried for that murder at any point. There have been several popular cases where murder trials happened decades after the murder was committed.

In the province of Ontario, there is a statute of limitations on how long a person can wait to bring a personal injury claim to court. With some exceptions, the statute of limitations on a personal injury court case is two years. That means that the victim has up to two years from the identification of the injury to commence a court proceeding.

The confusion with that law comes with trying to define the moment at which a victim identifies an injury as being the result of a personal injury. If a victim has his arm amputated in a car accident, then the clock starts ticking on the day of the accident. But if someone suffers a minor head injury in a car accident and then decides to ignore it, then that could be a problem. If it is decided two years later that the victim suffered minor brain damage as a result of the accident, then the courts would have to decide exactly when the clock started ticking in relation to the statute of limitations.

The exceptions to the statute of limitations laws apply to:

  • Minors under the age of 18
  • People who are incapacitated as the result of an accident and are unable to speak for themselves
  • People with special needs who may not understand the statute of limitations laws

In the case of minors under the age of 18, there are two possible solutions. The statute of limitations can be suspended until the minor turns 18 years old, and then the clock would start ticking. The other situation is when the courts decide that the minor’s guardian can proceed with a case on the minor’s behalf.

A person who is incapacitated could be someone who was put into a coma as the result of a personal injury and then spent several months recovering. In this instance, the limitation period may not start until the doctors have determined that the victim has regained the mental capacity to move forward with the case.

If an incapacitated person is unable to regain the mental capacity to proceed with the case, then he is treated the same way as a person with special needs would be treated. In each case, the victims are assigned a special guardian to speak on their behalf and the courts will decide when the statute of limitations begins.

For assistance with a personal injury and/or insurance claim, please email David Himelfarb at dhimelfarb@himprolaw.com or call 1-855-446-7765, for a free case evaluation.

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