Area of Law: Lawsuits / Civil Litigation
Answer # 4464
Who can sue and be sued?Region: Ontario Answer # 4464
Who can start a lawsuit?
Anyone can start a lawsuit in Ontario, including businesses, organizations, governments and individuals, provided that they are of sound mind and at least 18 years old. If you are under the age of 18 you are considered a minor. Minors are only allowed to represent themselves in Small Claims Court if they are plaintiffs and the amount of the claim is less than $500. If you are a minor and you are a plaintiff in a lawsuit where the claim is for more than $500, or if you are a defendant in any lawsuit, you will require someone to represent you. This person is called your Litigation Guardian. Litigation guardians are also required for people who are mentally incompetent.
Who can be a litigation guardian?
A litigation guardian can be anyone who is capable of suing on their own and who is not involved with the parties on the other side of the case. Usually, a litigation guardian is a relative or parent of the minor or the incompetent person. The litigation guardian is there to make decisions about the lawsuit and can be held responsible to pay for costs of litigation.
Who can be sued?
A civil lawsuit can be brought against a person, business, organization or even a government that has caused you injury or financial loss. In cases of negligence, anyone can be sued, including a minor. However, it is unlikely that a minor will have the necessary funds to compensate for the damages they may have caused. In most cases, parents will not be held responsible for the actions of their children, unless it can be shown that they were negligent in their care of the child. The younger the child, the more responsibility the parent has because they are presumed to be able to control the actions of the child. Also, in cases where a lawsuit is brought against a government, such as in slip and fall cases, special rules and time-frames for starting the lawsuit exist.
If you are uncertain about whether you are legally able to start a lawsuit, defend yourself in an action, or sue a government or someone who may be a minor or incompetent, you should contact a lawyer. It is important to start the process as soon after the injury occurs as possible.
More information can also be found from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.
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