Limitation periods vary with the type of lawsuit you are bringing, and an expired limitation period is a complete defence to a lawsuit. So what do you do if you have a claim but think you might have missed the limitation period?
You should contact a lawyer as quickly as possible. A lawyer might be able to help you persuade a judge that the limitation period should start to run from a later date.
That is what happened in the recent case of Madden v. Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School, 2015 ONSC 1773. In that case, the plaintiff claimed she was injured after an out-of-bounds football player violently collided with her as she was watching her son’s football game from the sidelines. After the expiration of the presumed two-year limitation period, the plaintiff learned that the referees might be partially at fault for her injuries. She sought leave from the court to add the referees to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff’s lawyer successfully argued that there was a live issue over when a diligent plaintiff could have discovered the claim against the referee. The judge granted leave to add the defendants to the claim.
The plaintiff isn’t out of the woods yet. The limitation period can still be brought up at trial or on a motion for summary judgment. But she succeeded on the first step and based on statistics her claim will probably settle.