The Limitation Period: What Does It Mean and Why Should You File ASAP?
When you are dealing with a small claims court case or others like it, it is important you know everything you can about the limitation period. Investigative and true crime documentaries have had a prevalent presence in viewers’ ratings nowadays, and if you are into one you might have heard the term limitation period multiple times — usually when it already lapsed or during the most crucial time in the case when time is of the essence.
The Limitation Period literally is “time of the essence”.
Many rules and governing procedures are in place in commencing lawsuits in Ontario, but one of the most important ones that people need to be aware of is The Limitations Act, 2002 which states all the details that you need to know about, such as:
- When can you file a case?
- What is the time limit of filling a case?
- Do you still have a case if you end up missing that time window?
For the basis of this article and to simplify the matter we are just going to discuss the basic limitation period for a claim. But first, we must answer the question: what exactly is a claim? According to the Limitations Act, a claim is defined as “to remedy an injury, loss or damage that occurred as a result of an act or omission.”
In a nutshell, if you are commencing a lawsuit the main purpose of the action is to grant you some sort of remedy to compensate, as well as bring you back to your prior state before the injury, loss or damage had occurred.
However, there is a catch when filling a claim. As easy as it sounds, all claims need to be filed within the specified limitation period. In Ontario, the basic limitation period is within “the second anniversary of the day on which the claim is discovered” or simplest terms, within 2 years.
But What Does It Mean to Discover a Claim? When Does the 2-Year Period Start Counting From?
Section 5 of the Limitations Act further defined discovery of a claim by stating:
(1) A claim is discovered on the earlier of,
(a) the day on which the person with the claim first knew,
(i) that the injury, loss or damage had occurred,
(ii) that the injury, loss or damage was caused by or contributed to by an act or omission,
(iii) that the act or omission was that of the person against whom the claim is made, and
(iv) that, having regard to the nature of the injury, loss or damage, a proceeding would be an appropriate means to seek to remedy it; and
(b) 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 (a). 2002, c. 24, Sched. B, s. 5 (1).
Some claims are discovered further down the road, and the court is always open to interpretation for when the claim started. The court is not rigid when it comes to this as per case to case basis, some loss and damages is not really discoverable on the get go.
What if I Decide to Commence a Lawsuit but the Limitation Period Has Lapsed?
To further assess your situation and claim, the best way to know if a case can still be commenced is by asking for legal advice through a Paralegal or Lawyer. The law in and of itself has so many layers, and with the discoverability rule in place it is still possible to file a claim years after the act or omission had occurred depending on the merits of the case.
What is the worst that could happen? If you missed the limitation period and decide to go ahead with a lawsuit, the default response of the court is that your case will be dismissed as it already lapsed the limitation period. However, with proper legal advice the discoverability rule might come into play and could give you that fair chance to remedy your injury, loss and damage claims.
For more information, please contact our Paralegal Firm in Toronto at 647-872-3484 today! We look forward to assisting you in any way we possibly can.