Personal Injury Myths & Misconceptions: “It’s Never Too Late to Call in a Lawyer”
Over the next little while, we’ll be tackling personal injury myths and misconceptions. For our first post, we are looking at the idea that “It’s never too late to call a lawyer.” Is that true?
Fact: Working with a lawyer can be helpful at almost any time. BUT, there are some fairly hard and fast time limits you should be aware of.
First, we need to distinguish between insurance benefits disputes and civil litigation limitation periods for suing the insurer or another party. These are two different processes that are each subject to their own timelines.
Insurance Benefits Disputes
Whether it’s the decision of your auto insurer, LTD insurer, or some other insurer, each insurance company and policy will have their own processes and deadlines to follow.
Be sure to pay close attention to the dates on communications from the insurer; your next steps or avenues for appeal are usually listed in the decision letter, along with the deadline. If there’s a compelling reason why you missed a deadline, a lawyer can apply pressure to the insurer to have them forgive the missed deadline.
If you’re disputing a decision of your auto insurer to the Automobile Accident Benefits Service (AABS), you must file that application within two years from the date that your insurance company denies your policy benefits.
Because the stakes are so high, we strongly encourage you to get legal advice. Most personal injury lawyers, including Van Dyke Law, will review your situation with you free of charge.
If your auto insurance company has denied your claim, or was paying benefits but has now cut you off, having a lawyer advocate on your behalf will often be enough to get the insurer to agree to pay you the benefits you’re entitled to.
Other times, it’s necessary to begin litigation (also known as “starting a lawsuit” or “suing”) to get benefits.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
In Ontario, the general limitation period to sue the insurance company or other involved parties is two years.
When does that 2-year period begin? That can be tricky. It may be the date of the accident, or the date the severity of your injuries was discovered. As you can see, it can be very complicated, so we strongly recommend that you contact a lawyer for advice.
A tort lawsuit– one that seeks compensation (“damages”) in addition to what’s available through the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS)–also must be started within two years. That could be a lawsuit against a negligent or impaired driver or a product liability lawsuit for a defective automobile or other product.
If you’re filing a lawsuit related to LTD, you’ll need to start your action within either one or two years of the refusal (the basic limitation period is two years, but some policies lower this to one year).
To conclude, there are instances where getting a lawyer involved may be helpful in overcoming a missed deadline, but there are still hard limitation periods that are much more difficult to get around. Getting in touch with a lawyer sooner, rather than later, will set you up for your best chance at success. If you need assistance, please contact us today. We’re here to help.