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December 18, 2020

The 407 ETR: a Lesson in Limitation Periods

Bogoroch LLP strongly believes that victims of personal injury are entitled to access to justice.

One of the GTA’s best alternatives to the frequently congested Highway 401 is the 407 ETR.  For those unfamiliar with this busy route, the 407 is a privately operated and electronically tolled highway that extends nearly 110 km across the city.

Electronic tolling is undoubtedly convenient for daily commuters.  But it also poses a risk in that it is like having a credit card – with no limits.  There is no check system in place to cap your spending habits.   And the accumulated borrowing costs could be financially devastating.

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Borrowing from the Highway

Having unpaid highway usage fees – that accrue interest – makes you a debtor of the 407.

According to a recent Globe and Mail article, a high-profile lawsuit is set to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice.  Here is the crux of this case:

  • The operator of the 407 is fighting its ability to sue drivers who have not paid outstanding tolls more than a decade old
  • Driver in question:  Allegedly owes $13,000+ in tolls and fees
  • The court must decide if the 407 can have up to 15 years to take legal action against delinquent drivers; or if this time frame should be reduced to two
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Statute of Limitations

The above case illustrates a legal concept known as the Statute of Limitations.  These are written laws that determine how much time can pass after the offending incident – before one can no longer take legal action.  Once this time frame runs out, the claim is no longer valid.

In Ontario, the general Limitation Period is two years.  A Limitation Period is essentially a legal timer.  When this two-year period expires, you often lose your legal right to launch a lawsuit.

What Starts the Timer?

The timer is started by a complicated legal principle known as ‘Discoverability.’  Below is a simple outline of how this concept plays out.  The timer begins when:

  • You become aware that another party (person, company, municipality, etc.) caused you some harm or injury
  • This harm or injury can be physical, psychological, or financial
  • Examples of triggering incidents include, but are not limited to, car accidents, slips or falls, inadequate medical care
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You must be proactive and begin counting from the date you become aware of the injury or harm.  The Limitation Period starts from that moment forward.

If You Believe You Have a Legal Claim, What Should You Do?

Do not delay. The best course of action is to consult Boorish & Associates LLP as soon as possible.  The sooner you consult with and retain a lawyer, the sooner he/she can begin looking into the merits of a lawsuit.  This, in turn, will allow you to receive the compensation you deserve.

If Two Years Has Expired, Is There Any Recourse?

The 407 ETR: a Lesson in Limitation Periods

Two years is by no means an absolute rule, and this territory of law can become highly complex.  There are important exceptions that may very well apply in your case. Regardless of whether you believe the two-year period has expired, consult a lawyer for personalized information.

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So What Happens to The 407 ETR Lawsuit?

The company that operates this busy Ontario highway is about to argue that it should be entitled to an exceptional 15 Year Limitation Period.  The firm is arguing this through a legal concept known as the ‘Ultimate Limitation Period.’  The defendant is a driver fighting the nearly $14,000 debt he owes for using the 407 ETR.  He argues that the standard Two Year Limitation Period should apply in his case.  It will be of great interest to watch this trial unfold in the coming months.

The above article is for general purposes only.  Should you have a question about your legal rights and remedies, please contact Bogoroch LLP.

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