In Nova Scotia, the law (the Nova Scotia Insurance Act) limits an injured victim’s ability to receive compensation related to pain and suffering that is considered to be a “minor injury” to $8,768* as of 2019 (*indexed to inflation each year; starting at $7,500 in 2010). However, it is important to note that there is no cap on the victim’s ability to receive compensation for other actual financial claims such as medical expenses, property damage, loss of income, and related expenses.
What is Considered Minor?
Based on Legislation, the following questions are often asked in determining whether a plaintiff has suffered a minor injury:
- Was there a personal injury involved?
- If yes, did it result in permanent, serious disfigurement?
- Did the injury result in any permanent, serious impairment of an important body function?
- Did the injury resolve within 12 months after the accident?
The law imposes this limitation when the injuries include sprains, strains, and certain levels of whiplash (levels one and two, not levels three and four, which include fractures and/or dislocations of the spine, as well as tendon and/or reflex issues, as well as neurological damage; i.e. “serious impairment”).
However, whether or not your injury can technically be considered “minor” is something that is best to discuss with your lawyer, as relying on your own judgment can be dangerous and result in seriously undervaluing what you are owed.
How Can Whiplash be a Minor Injury?
Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs when your head moves forcefully and rapidly back and forth, almost like a “whip.” These types of injuries usually occur as a result of being rear-ended in an auto accident, but can also result from any action that mimics this type of accident, such as physical abuse, aggressive shaking, certain types of sports, etc.
When it comes to figuring out just how serious your whiplash injury is, we always suggest getting multiple medical opinions right away because these types of injuries can quickly escalate; initially feeling minor, while quickly turning into something overwhelming and long-lasting; sometimes even permanent. Some whiplash symptoms include:
- Loss of range of motion in the neck area;
- Neck pain; and/or
- Tenderness, tingling, and/or loss of feeling in the arms, upper back, and/or shoulders.
In addition, some people also experience:
- Blurred vision;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Memory issues;
- Ringing in the ears (“tinnitus”); and/or
- Problems sleeping.
While these symptoms can resolve within a few weeks, sometimes they become chronic and long-lasting. In particular, if you are older or have suffered from related injuries before (not only including whiplash but also neck or back pain), this can result in a more serious outcome.
The Nova Scotia Insurance Act defines a “minor” injury as a sprain, strain, or category 1 or 2 whiplash, which covers basic neck pain, stiffness, tenderness, and decreased range of motion. Anything beyond that constitutes a more severe injury (meaning pain and suffering damages are not capped).
What Injuries are Arguably Automatically “Major”?
Some of the most serious injuries that can result from car accidents include those to the:
- Bones (fractures)
- Neck fracture
- Spinal cord injuries
- Disc (herniation)
- Ligaments (torn)
- Skin (burns potentially leading to permanent disfigurement)
- Vital organs
These can also include amputations, blindness, deep lacerations, chronic pain, internal bleeding, cognitive disabilities, and/or wrongful death.
Damages in Canada: How Much is My Claim Worth?
In Canada, the types of damages you can recover include:
- General (“non-pecuniary”) damages: for non-monetary losses that are difficult to assess. These include losses related to disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, pain, suffering, etc.;
- Pecuniary (“special”) damages: those that can be financially measured, such as medical expenses;
There are certain categories of loss for which it is relatively easy to determine fair monetary value — medical bills, property damage repair bills, wage loss and the like can be ascertained by reviewing records, invoices and employment information to determine proper compensation levels. However, there are other areas in which the true harm sustained is far more difficult to calculate. Financial calculations related to physical pain and emotional distress common to tort claims require detailed analysis of the types of professional treatment needed to address them, the probable impact on the victim’s previous lifestyle, employment prospects and relationships, and other factors.
Still, establishing damages in the aftermath of an auto accident is an essential part of ensuring full and fair compensation. Collecting and assembling vital documentation is perhaps the most important task involved in obtaining maximum financial recovery, and it is useful for victims to understand some of the categories of evidence that can prove essential to their success.
What to do if You Have Been in an Accident
First and foremost, make sure that everyone involved in the accident is OK and all vehicles are out of the way of oncoming traffic so as to avoid creating a hazard. This will require that you receive medical attention right away, even if you do not think that you have a serious injury, as some injuries are not obvious at first. Also know that contacting the police can be helpful in documenting exactly what happened. Make sure that you refrain from making any potentially incriminating statements to the other driver and document everything – take pictures, take down information from the driver and witnesses, take notes on locations and what happened, etc.
Accidents in Nova Scotia and Surrounding Areas
Auto accidents can unfold under a seemingly endless array of circumstances. Some of the most frequently observed scenarios responsible for crashes in Nova Scotia include, but are not limited to:
- Drunk and/or drugged driving
- Failure to react appropriately to changes in weather/road conditions
- Failure to heed traffic signals
- Texting while driving
- Traveling at excessive speeds
- Inappropriate lane changes
- Motorist fatigue
- Errors in judgment
- Inattentive/distracted driving
- Improper loading of cargo in large trucks
- Defectively designed or manufactured vehicles and/or components
Choosing the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
In choosing your lawyer, you want to make sure that you not only work with someone who is in the right location, but who has been practicing in the legal area related to your injury for a significant amount of time.
At Preszler Law, we have been assisting victims of car accidents, slip and fall accidents, long term disability claims, as well as other injury matters since 1959. Our national presence across numerous provinces in Canada has resulted in thousands of claims being settled. Our clients are never treated like file numbers; we devote an entire legal team to each and every one of our client’s claims, ensuring constant communication and updates as your claim progresses. Our lawyers are not paid unless our clients are. We will come to you when your injuries prevent you from traveling to our offices.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident here in Nova Scotia or surrounding areas, contact our personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation to find out how we can help. Regardless of how severe your injuries are; we are ready to fight on your behalf to obtain the compensation you need to get back on the road to recovery. We also help clients with disability benefits, bicycle accidents, dog bite injuries, wrongful death, motorcycle accidents, sexual abuse, medical malpractice, slip, trip and fall accidents, birth injuries, truck accidents, premises liability, snowmobile and ATV accidents, defective products, and more.