Motor Vehicle Accidents & Limitation Periods:

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I was injured in a car accident which was not my fault more than 3 years ago. I have just learned that as a result of my injuries I will need surgery and may never be able to work again. Before learning this from my doctor I had believed my injuries were not that serious and I would fully recover. Can I sue the driver that hit me?

Limitations and their exceptions

That is a complicated question. Generally speaking, although there are exceptions, you may commence an action for damages in Ontario anytime up to 2 years after an event, or after you reasonably learned of the consequences of an event. If you know of the consequences of an event where you suffered injuries or losses, you generally lose your right to sue as of the second anniversary of the loss.

There are various exceptions to this rule. Recently, the Ontario Government has abolished limitation periods for victims of sexual assault.

Furthermore, limitations generally don’t apply to people under a legal disability, and that includes minors (people under the age of 18).

There is also a legal doctrine of discoverability. Discoverability provides that a limitation period does not begin to run against a person until that person knew or ought to have known of a loss, and in some cases the extent or seriousness of a loss can be an issue.

What should you do?

The first thing you should do is get legal advice from a lawyer as soon as you become aware that something has happened. There are other shorter limitation periods including notice periods which can be just a few days, arising in some circumstances. A lawyer can give you advice and help you pursue your rights as appropriate.

Secondly, even if you think too much time has gone by, you should consult with a lawyer. If circumstances provide an exception to the usual limitation periods, a lawyer will be able to advise you of this fact and advocate on your behalf.

All cases are specific to their facts and the above information should not be relied upon to determine rights in particular circumstances. Lawyers often provide no obligation free and confidential consultations to prospective clients. So it is a good idea to seek out legal advice from a lawyer if you have any doubt or questions about your rights.