Court of Appeal Confirms Knowledge of Material Facts Triggers Start of Limitation Period
On November 4, 2020, the Court of Appeal rendered its decision in Baig v. Mississauga, which affirmed that it is the knowledge of the material facts which are necessary to support the cause of action that triggers the commencement of the two-year limitation period rather than the knowledge of the extent of damages.
On May 21, 2013, Mr. Baig was cycling across a pedestrian bridge when a hazard resulted in him falling off his bicycle. That same day, he attended the hospital and was diagnosed with a broken finger and superficial facial abrasions. Eight days later, Mr. Baig submitted a claim report to The Corporation of the Town of Mississauga (“Mississauga”) seeking compensation for the following injuries:
- facial lacerations;
- fractured finger bone;
- temporary blackout; and
On the claim report it was noted that there was a ten (10) day notice period to provide Mississauga with notice for certain claims. The claim report also noted the two-year limitation period for bringing an action for all claims. Despite these timelines, four years passed before Mr. Baig issued a Statement of Claim against Mississauga seeking damages for the injuries he sustained on May 21, 2013. Thereafter, Mr. Baig was authorized to amend his Statement of Claim to allege that he discovered subsequent injuries in the years of 2016-2019 arising from the accident. His additional injuries were noted as:
- a laceration to his lip;
- carpal tunnel syndrome;
- moderate-severe depression;
- post-concussion syndrome;
- osteoarthritis in his neck; and
- osteoarthritis resulting in permanent impairment to his fractured finger.
One of the issues before the Court of Appeal was whether motion judge erred in finding that subsequent discovery of the severity of the injuries did not extend the limitation period. The Court of Appeal held that the motion judge made no error when she held that the subsequent discovery of the severity of his injuries did not extend the limitation period. As such, it stands that it is the knowledge of the material facts necessary to support the cause of action that triggers the commencement of the limitation period whereas knowledge of the extent of damages is not necessary.
Knowledge of material facts; not extent of damages
Mr. Baig argued that he did not discover the extent of his injuries until several years after the incident. However, the motion judge rejected these arguments and determined there was no genuine issue for trial. The Court of Appeal reaffirmed its holding in Liu v. Wong, which read as follows:
- “the law is quite well established that it is knowledge of the material facts necessary to support the cause of action that triggers the commencement of the litigation period. Knowledge of the extent of damages is not necessary.”
Be advised: A plaintiff’s allegation that they only discovered the severity of their injuries several years after the accident is not enough to extend the two-year limitation period to commence a claim.
Prepared by Sarah Reich and Nikita Atkinson (articling student)