Another Reason Not to Sit on Your Rights

December 12, 2021

By Brian Babcock

For some reason, a lot of lawyers, and a lot of clients, seem to think that waiting until the last possible moment to start a law suit is a good idea.

We have written before about some reasons why this is a bad idea.

No one needs an argument about limitation periods added to the hurdles that they need to overcome to succeed in their claim. That dispute will just add delay and cost – neither of which are good things if you are the one who is suing.

A case recently came to our attention that emphasizes this point, in a context not discussed previously.

In Patkaciunas v. Economical Mutual Insurance Company, the Plaintiff’s lawyer attempted to have the action commenced on the last possible day for the limitation. Unfortunately, the person they sent to have the statement of claim issued encountered a court staff member who rejected the claim, although the court day had not ended, because that clerk had turned off their computer for the day. Fortunately for the Plaintiff, the motion judge did not strike the claim as filed too late. Instead, the claim was deemed to have been filed when it was presented at the counter. Happy ending for this Plaintiff. Sort of.

No one needs the stress, delay, or cost that this Plaintiff faced. Having to sue your insurer is tough enough without extra issues created by the process.

We don’t know why this claim was delayed until the last moment – did the client sleep on their rights? Were their ongoing negotiations? Was somebody (lawyer or client) trying to save a few bucks?

Whatever the reason, in hindsight I am sure they wish they had acted more quickly.

We have had great experiences with court staff in Thunder Bay, Kenora, Fort Frances, Sault Ste. Marie and other places we typically practice, so maybe the clerk who was in a hurry to leave was just a Toronto problem – we don’t envy them with those commutes. But regardless of that issue, lots of things can go wrong if we have to prepare your claim and file it in a hurry. We have written before about the need to include all proper parties, for example. The required investigations may be tougher if you do not see us early. Starting the process does not necessarily commit you to continue with the lawsuit.

As we have said before, getting legal advice from Weilers Law early is always a sound investment, and may save you money, or increase your recovery, in the long run. This fact scenario just reinforces that reality.