Defining The Parameters Of Limitation Periods In Personal Injury Actions

A limitation period is a stated period of time, the expiry of which extinguishes a party’s legal remedy and forbids the commencement of a legal action. Each province in Canada has general statutes of limitations and many provincial and federal statutes contain limitation periods applicable to a variety of causes of actions. Traditionally, limitation periods have been strictly enforced. More recently, the subject of when time begins to run has received greater attention from our courts.

The discoverability rule has evolved fairly recently in our civil jurisprudence.1 It gives relief in certain factual situations by extending a limitation period. According to the discoverability rule, a limitation period begins to run when the material facts upon which an action is based have been discovered, or ought to have been discovered by the plaintiff through the exercise of due diligence. The effect of the rule is to postpone the running of time until a reasonable person, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, would discover the facts necessary to maintain the action.2 It is a general rule applied to avoid injustice.

It is now over two years since the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Peixeiro v. Haberman. Justice Major in Peixeiro adopted Taddle’s J. A.’s statement in Fehr v. Jacob (1993), 14 C.C.L.T. (2d) 200 (Man. C.A.) at 206, which is as follows:

In my opinion, the judge-made discoverability rule is nothing more than a rule of construction. Whenever a statute requires an action to be commenced within a specified time from the happening of a specific event, the statutory language must be construed. When time runs from “the accrual of the cause of action” or from some other event which can be construed as occurring only when the injured party has knowledge of the injury sustained, the judge-made discoverability rule applies. But, when time runs from an event which clearly occurs without regard to the injured party’s knowledge, the judge-made discoverability rule may not extend the period the legislature has prescribed.

In Peixeiro the court concluded that the limitation period under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act did not start to run in a personal injury action arising out of an automobile accident until the plaintiff discovered facts that could sustain a claim that his or her injuries met the threshold under the Insurance Act.

Since Peixeiro, the discoverability rule has enjoyed broad application in Ontario in motor vehicle actions and actions against municipalities and the provincial crown. As such there is now a body of jurisprudence on the scope and application of Peixeiro. The purpose of this paper is to review the way Ontario courts have applied Peixeiro in the context of personal injury litigation so that the parameters of the present authorities in the area of motor vehicle actions and actions against municipalities and the provincial crown can be better understood and defined

Criminal Defense Attorney Phoenix Immigration Consequences

In the case of Padilla v. Kentucky, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 7-2 decision that “[i[t is quintessentially the duty of counsel to provide his/her client with the available advice about an issue like deportation” and the failure to do so satisfies the first prong of the Strickland analysis regarding ineffective assistance of counsel. In other words a criminal defense attorney Phoenix must notify their client regarding issues of whether or not a plea carries immigration consequences. The court held that “counsel must inform their client whether his or her plea carries a risk of deportation.”

Justice Stevens even provides a practice tip and encourages criminal defense attorneys in Phoenix and other lawyers to consider immigration consequences when engaging in plea-bargaining and to do so creatively.

The Padilla decision simply reinforces existing law in states like New Mexico where counsel already has the responsibility to determine if a client is a citizen, determine the immigration consequences of the crime with which the client is charged and inform the client. But in those states that only found ineffective assistance of counsel where there was clearly incorrect advice regarding immigration consequences or though immigration consequences were collateral to the criminal defense attorney Phoenix case and therefore are not worthy of ineffective assistance analysis, this landmark decision in the Padilla case does expand the duties of criminal defense attorneys in Phoenix and nationwide.

The concurrence of Justice Alito even recognizes that “any competent criminal defense attorney should appreciate the extraordinary importance that the risk of removal might have in the clients determination whether to enter a guilty plea.”

The Supreme Court rejected the argument that immigration consequences are considered “collateral” to the criminal case and therefore not subject to the requirement of effective assistance of counsel and also rejected the notion that only “wrong” advice is ineffective.

Although the Supreme Court holds that where the immigration consequences are mandatory and clear a criminal defense attorney Phoenix or other counsel must so inform the client. The only disappointment of the opinion is the language starting that where the immigration law is unclear, a criminal defense attorney Phoenix can merely advise their client that there is a risk of adverse immigration consequences and tell their client to consult an expert. The issue with this – the client may not have the resources to hire either an immigration lawyer or a criminal defense attorney Phoenix who understands the consequences.

What is clear with the majority opinion’s extensive discussion of professional standards, is that in all cases where the defendant is not an American citizen, counsel has a duty to investigate a clients immigration status as well as the immigration consequences of the particular charges the client may be facing. Only after investigation will the criminal defense attorney Phoenix’s advice differ – it may unclear or clear, depending upon the law.

Throughout the country some public defender offices have hired an expert in the field of immigration and criminal law or banded together with offices to have such backup capability. While Justice Alito’s concurrence goes to great lengths to point out the complexity of immigration law, in fact immigration law is similar to any new area criminal defense attorneys Phoenix face, such as DNA evidence – they either learn the field or hire an individual who knows it in order to represent the client.

The challenge to criminal defense attorneys in Phoenix is to look at each client holistically and see what impact there may be from the criminal charges including immigration as well as other consequences.