Notice Requirements: Acting Fast After Injury is Crucial

October 2nd, 2014 by Marc Spivak

The importance of acting fast in personal injury litigation cannot be overstated.

A recent Ontario Superior Court case, Seif v City of Toronto, is a chilling example of the failure to act fast. In this case, on August 19, 2011, the plaintiff had tripped on a gap in a City of Toronto sidewalk, fracturing her left wrist.  She was treated at Mount Sinai Hospital that same day for her injuries. One week later, she returned to the scene of the incident with her husband, and they noted a 2.5 centimeter gap in the concrete where she had tripped.

The plaintiff later retained a lawyer, and on December 21, 2011, 4 months after the incident, her lawyer sent a letter to the city notifying it of the plaintiff’s potential claim.

The City brought a summary judgment motion against the plaintiff with respect to the adequacy of the notice letter, according to SmithJonesSolicitors.co.uk. In particular, that the notice letter was not specific enough with regards to its description of the spot at which the incident occurred, and, secondly, that the plaintiff had failed to notify the City of her claim within the 10 day notice period stipulated by Section 42(6) of the City of Toronto Act, 2006. If the City were to be successful on the summary judgment motion, the plaintiff would be barred from continuing to pursue her claim.

Unfortunately, the City was successful, solely on the 10 day notification requirement basis, despite the Court’s comments that it sympathized with the plaintiff, and that the notice requirement is “very unfair”.

Notably, as the court considered, the plaintiff may be excused from missing the 10 day notice period if they can establish that they had a reasonable excuse for doing so. However, the court noted that ignorance of the 10 day time limit is not a reasonable excuse, and that this exception, “is not designed to extend the time for a plaintiff whose delay is a result of their indecision or their apathy toward issuing a claim.”

As the Seif case exemplifies, if you have been injured, you should consult a lawyer as soon as possible, as some claims have short notice requirements. If you are in need of assistance with regards to a personal injury claim, please contact Marc Spivak or one of our Toronto Personal Injury Lawyers.


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