Limitation Periods

What You Need to Know So Your Patient is Not Late to File a Claim.

As healthcare professionals, be it a treating medical or rehabilitation professional, you may be among the first to come into contact with persons who may have cause to begin a personal injury lawsuit.  While this can put some awkward pressure on you, as a professional practicing in this field, you will have knowledge that your patient lacks. A prime example is the knowledge that there is usually a limited amount of time for an individual to begin a claim that could provide for financial assistance with costs associated with treatment of their injuries.

Although this is just a general rule, there are other cases where exceptions can be made. However, there are other cases, such as within certain municipalities, that the individual only has 10 days to warn the municipality of an intention to sue. Frequently, patients will not be familiar with these deadlines or limitations periods, so they may not seek legal advice until it is too late.

As a medical professional you cannot give legal advice to your patients and should not suggest to them what time limits may apply to their case, However, if you suspect that the patient has grounds for a legal claim it is certainly in your right to encourage them to seek legal advice and to move quickly.

It is important to note, that in the Province of Ontario, people in general have two years from the date of an accident or a denial of insurance benefits to start a lawsuit. If they fail to do so before the two years is up, they will be prevented from doing so later.

There are many rules and procedures governing lawsuits in Ontario, but limitation periods are one of the most important to understand when considering your rights, and deciding whether to commence a lawsuit.  In Ontario, most limitation periods are governed by the Limitations Act, 2002.  If a lawsuit is commenced and the limitation period has expired, the lawsuit will be dismissed by the court.

For this reason, it is important to understand any limitation periods that may apply to a claim that you may have, and to understand exactly when the time starts running on that limitation period.  This can be a complicated question – while this article provides an overview of limitation periods in Ontario, if you think you may have a claim against someone, you should speak with a lawyer to understand the specific timelines applicable to your situation.

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