Accidents, Injuries and Suing
Click on a topic below to learn more.
Mandatory types of automobile insurance coverage
Nova Scotia drivers must have:
1) third party liability coverage;
2) accident benefits coverage, and;
3) uninsured and unidentified drivers coverage.
These three types of automobile insurance coverage are mandatory in Nova Scotia. They are found in sections A, B, and D, respectively, of your automobile insurance policy.
Third party liability coverage
Third party liability coverage, also called PLPD, insures you if you injure someone, cause someone's death, or damage someone else's property in a motor vehicle accident. You must have at least $500,000 of third party liability coverage, although it is common to have $1,000,000 of coverage. Third party liability coverage is found in section A of a standard automobile insurance policy.
Accident benefits, also called 'section B' or no-fault benefits, provide coverage if you and/or passengers are injured in a motor vehicle accident. They include medical and rehabilitation expenses, death and funeral benefits, and loss of income. Accident benefits are no-fault. This means you are generally entitled to accident benefits even if you caused the accident. There are some important limitations. For example, if you are convicted of impaired driving in connection with the accident, or if you were not licensed to drive, you would be denied accident benefits. However, any passenger injured would still be able to make a claim.
What accident benefits cover
Accident benefits cover:
1) reasonable medical and rehabilitation expenses up to a maximum of $50,000 per person;
2) funeral expenses up to $2,500, and some death benefits;
3) loss of income, generally at the rate of $250 per week if you were working at the date of the accident.
The above accident benefit amounts apply to any crash that happened on or after April 1, 2012. Benefit amounts for a crash before April 1, 2012 are lower: maximum $25,000 per person medical and rehabilitation expenses; $1,000 funeral expenses; $140 per week loss of income.
Uninsured and unidentified driver insurance coverage
If an unidentified driver, or a driver without insurance, injures you or damages your vehicle you may make a claim under the uninsured and unidentified driver section of your own automobile insurance policy. This is section D of a standard automobile insurance policy.
Types of optional automobile insurance coverage
Collision and comprehensive coverage, or section C in a standard insurance policy, is optional. Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle from an accident, even if you are at fault for the accident. Comprehensive insurance covers loss or damage to your vehicle if you hit an animal, or if your vehicle is stolen, vandalized, damaged in a fire.
Further, you may choose to get additional section B benefits coverage.
For more insurance information you may wish to contact:
- the Insurance Bureau of Canada's Information Centre at 1.800.565.7189 ext. 227 or visit its website at www.ibc.ca. The Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of private insurance companies;
- Nova Scotia's Office of the Superintendant of Insurance at 902.424.6331 or online at novascotia.ca/finance (under 'Insurance'). The Office of the Superintendant of Insurance regulates Nova Scotia's insurance industry and enforces the Insurance Act
- General Insurance OmbudService at 1.877.225.0446 or visit its website at giocanada.org. The General Insurance OmbudService is an independent dispute resolution service that helps Canadian consumers resolve disputes or concerns with their home, auto or business insurers;
- the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada at 1-866-461-FCAC (3222) or visit its website at fcac-acfc.gc.ca. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada is an independent body which provides consumer information on financial services and products, and also monitors and supervises federally incorporated or registered insurance companies.
Last reviewed: August 2017
Defamation: Libel and slander
A good reputation is part of your self-worth and dignity. Once harmed, a good reputation is hard to get back.
The law of defamation protects a person’s reputation from harm that is not justified.
Defamation is communication about a person that tends to hurt their reputation. It causes people who read or hear the communication to think less of the person.
The law doesn't protect you from a personal insult or a remark that injures only your pride. It protects your reputation in the minds of others, not your feelings.
For example, if someone in a public meeting calls you a nasty word, your feelings might be hurt, but you would have a difficult time showing the communication lowered your reputation in the minds of others.
If someone tells others you cheat in your business dealings, then you would have a much stronger claim that this harms your reputation and is defamatory.
Sometimes, even though someone makes a defamatory statement that harms a person's reputation, the law may say another right, like freedom of expression, is more important.
This legal information is about civil defamation. It does not talk about criminal defamation. Defamation can also be a crime under the Criminal Code, but criminal charges for defamation are rare. This information does not give legal advice.
Different forms of defamation: Libel and Slander
If defamation is written or recorded in some other way, it is called libel. Libel is defamation that leaves a permanent record. Examples of libel are statements on social media or other online platforms, in newspapers, letters, or emails, or on radio or TV broadcasts. Libel can also be a picture.
If the defamation leaves no permanent record, it is called slander. Mostly this is spoken statements. It can also be a hand gesture or something similar.
Under Nova Scotia’s Defamation Act, libel and slander are treated the same: either can be 'defamation', and can be the basis of a civil lawsuit.
Defamation can be committed against a group or an individual.
Options if someone made defamatory comments about you
Collect all of the information you can about:
- what was said and to who,
- whether it was published somewhere (and if so, keep a copy),
- when it was said and how often (dates),
- whether it was repeated by anyone else, and
- any damaging effects that you have noticed. This might include money loss, loss of business or customers, emotional or psychological effects.
If you’ve been bullied online or had intimate pictures of you shared without your consent, you’re protected under Nova Scotia’s Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act. See “Online bullying” below, and contact Nova Scotia CyberScan for more information and help.
You might try writing a ‘cease and desist’ letter. This is a letter telling the person to stop making the defamatory comments right now and in the future. The letter can threaten to sue if the defamatory statements do not stop. You could write the letter yourself or hire a lawyer to write it for you.
Ask the person to publicly retract (take back) the comments and apologize.
If someone defames you, you might be able to sue them for money (called damages) for harming your reputation.
It is a good idea to contact a lawyer and get advice about whether you have the basis to sue the person who made the comments, or to perhaps get them to retract them and apologize.
You should get advice as soon as possible as there are time limits, called limitation periods, on when you can sue and they can vary depending on who you plan to sue. The limitation period in certain defamation cases can be as short as 3 to 6 months, so it is a good idea to get advice as soon as possible after you learn that defamation occurred. If the limitation period is missed, a judge will not allow the claim to proceed, even if it has merit.
To show that someone defamed you, you must show that the communication:
- was defamatory — that it would tend to lower your reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person,
- referred to you,
- was false, and
- was communicated by the defendant to at least one other person.
You are not required to show the defendant intended to do harm, or even that the defendant was careless. If you prove the required elements, the defendant must then prove a defence in order to escape liability.
Defences to a defamation claim
The following are defences to a defamation claim:
If you give your consent for a defamatory statement to be published, you cannot sue the publisher for defamation.
Truth or justification
A statement may hurt your reputation, but if the statement is true, that is a complete defence to a defamation claim. The person who made the statement can defend their statement by proving it is more likely true than not.
Absolute privilege — Statements made in a court or tribunal process
A statement made in a court or tribunal process is protected by a defence of absolute privilege. This is a complete and unqualified defence to an action for defamation.
This defence protects defamatory statements made in a civil lawsuit. It covers statements made in court, as well as all steps to prepare for court, including court filings and examinations for discovery.
Absolute privilege also protects defamatory statements made in all stages of a criminal case. For example, a complaint to the police is protected by absolute privilege — as long as the complaint is not repeated to others.
Absolute privilege also protects a person who makes a defamatory statement in a proceeding that is like court (called quasi-judicial), like a hearing before a professional regulatory body such as the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society or a human rights tribunal hearing.
And absolute privilege protects statements in Parliament or a provincial legislature.
Some of the reasons for this protection include:
- allowing people to freely represent their position in court
- encouraging witnesses to give full and frank testimony, without worrying about people suing them afterward.
But absolute privilege does not protect a person who repeats their statement outside of the court or tribunal process.
From the Courts...
A 2001 Supreme Court of Nova Scotia case called Keung v. Sheehan talks about the defence of absolute privilege and the reasons for it.
A defamatory statement made in performing a public or private duty can be protected by qualified privilege. The protection only applies to statements made to people with a corresponding interest in receiving the statement.
An example of qualified privilege is when a previous employer provides a bad reference to a potential employer. If the previous employer honestly believes what they are saying in providing the bad reference, qualified privilege may protect them.
The duty can be legal, social, or moral. The test is whether a person of ordinary intelligence would think there was a duty to give the information to the audience it was made to.
There are no exact rules about when qualified privilege applies. It depends on the facts of a case. If the communication is made under qualified privilege, the defence applies even when very strong language is used, or the statement is false. However, the communication must be relevant to the reason for which it was made.
If a defendant acted with malice (with an intention to cause harm) in making a defamatory statement, they cannot rely on the defence of qualified privilege.
It is hard to rely on this defence for statements made on the internet because the defence protects a person only if they limit their defamatory statements to people who have an interest in hearing the communication. Defamatory statements on the internet are not limited this way. Instead, they go to the public in general. So they do not meet this test unless it is a matter the public would be interested in, or the communication is on a members-only site or service and not open to the public.
We all are free to comment — even harshly — about issues of public interest, as long as we are clear that our comments are:
- expressed in a way that shows they are opinion, not fact,
- based on facts that can be proven and those facts are either stated or otherwise known to readers or listeners, and
- not made maliciously (on purpose to hurt someone).
For example, a newspaper columnist may write about a politician who says they support equality and equal rights, but are opposed to same-sex marriages. The columnist may write that the politician is hypocritical. If the politician sues the columnist for defamation, the columnist may put forward the defence of fair comment.
Responsible communication on matters of public interest
A more recent defence to defamation claims deals with reporting on matters of public interest. Journalists should be able to report statements and allegations — even if not true — if there’s a public interest in distributing the information to a wide audience. This defence, which looks at the whole context of a situation, can apply if:
- the news was urgent, serious, and of public importance, and
- the journalist used reliable sources, and tried to get and report the other side of the story.
The courts have defined the term “journalist” widely to include bloggers and others publishing material of public interest in any medium.
The defence of innocent dissemination is important in the internet era. Generally, a person who takes part in publishing a defamatory statement is responsible for its publication. This includes a writer, editor, printer, and distributor. But a person who acts only as a distributor may be able to rely on the defence of innocent dissemination if they:
- did not know they were distributing a defamatory statement, and
- were not negligent in not knowing, and
- removed the statement from their website or from distribution right away when they learned of the defamatory statement.
The defamer can also be liable for damages caused by a third party repeating the defamatory comment(s).
From the Courts...
The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia gave an overview of the law of defamation, and some (but not all) of the possible defences, in a 2011 case called Nichol v. Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 138, Ashby, at paragraphs 53 to 70 in particular.
Someone reported me to the police and I was charged with a crime but found not guilty - can I sue?
Anyone may report a crime to the police if they honestly believe that a crime has been committed. In order to encourage citizens to report crime such reports to the police are considered in the public interest and are protected by a qualified privilege. However, if the person who reported you did not honestly believe that you had committed a crime, but instead acted maliciously or recklessly when reporting you to the police, this privilege will not protect them. In this situation, the person might be charged with a crime themselves, such as public mischief, but you may also be able to sue them for malicious prosecution.
I got a letter containing lies about me—can I sue for defamation?
To sue for defamation, the statements must in some way be communicated to a person other than you. If someone sends you a letter making defamatory statements about you, but does not show or send the letter to anyone else, there will be no harm to your reputation and you will not be able to sue for defamation. The communication to a third party must be made without your consent, so you still will not be able to sue for libel even if you show the letter to someone else.
What's involved in suing someone for defamation?
A defamation claim happens in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Small Claims Court cannot deal with defamation – it is outside its jurisdiction (power).
A defamation claim must be brought within a specific time limit called the limitation period. The clock starts running when the defamatory statement was made or published, or when the person harmed finds out about the defamatory statement, whichever is later. In some case the time limit for making a defamation claim may be as short as three (3) months, so it is a good idea to act as soon as possible and get legal advice about time limits.
To start the lawsuit, you must file documents in court and deliver them to (“serve” them on) the other party. You can get information about going to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia here.
A few things to think about before starting a lawsuit:
- Going to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia is time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. Even if you win, you may spend more on legal fees than you get in damages. A court can award costs to the winner of a lawsuit, but costs cover only a small portion of your full legal costs.
- You risk paying the defendant’s costs (some or all of their legal fees) if you lose.
- Does the person you want to sue have money to pay you if you win?
What kinds of damages might be awarded in a defamation lawsuit?
If the person bringing a defamation lawsuit (the “plaintiff”) can prove the defendant defamed them, and the defendant does not have a defence to the claim, then a court may award general damages for loss of reputation. General damages can range from small to large amounts. It depends on several factors, including:
- the plaintiff’s position and standing in the community,
- the nature and seriousness of the defamation,
- the mode and extent of publication,
- the absence or refusal of any retraction or apology, and
- the conduct of the defendant from the time of the defamatory statements to judgment.
The mode and extent of publication is a particularly significant consideration in assessing damages in internet defamation cases.
The plaintiff may also be entitled to special damages, such as lost earnings, but only if they can prove that the lost earnings resulted from the defamatory statement, and not from other factors.
If someone makes defamatory statements with malice (an intent to injure), the plaintiff may also be entitled to aggravated or even punitive damages.
From the Courts...
In a 2012 Nova Scotia case called Trout Point Lodge the defendant published false information about the plaintiffs on his blog. The plaintiffs won general damages, but also aggravated and punitive damages. The Court found that the defendant had acted on purpose to cause harm, refused to apologize or take back what he had said, and had not stopped making false statements harming the plaintiffs’ reputations.
What is the effect of an apology?
A timely and public apology or retraction does not prevent someone from suing for defamation. But the person whose reputation was harmed may decide an apology is enough and decide not to sue.
If a case goes to trial though, the compensation awarded by the court may be lower, as a timely apology or retraction may limit the damages.
Can defamation happen online?
Yes. Online statements are typically treated in the same way as statements published in any other way, with the same potential defences. In some countries, even comments made in chat rooms have been considered defamatory. As the internet is international, you may be sued for defamationby people outside Canada. Generally, the laws of the country you are being sued from apply instead of Canadian laws, unless you are able to show good reasons why Canadian law should apply instead.
Even if you win a lawsuit in Canada against someone who lives outside Canada and who defamed you online, other countries may not be willing to enforce a Canadian judgment. It may be hard to collect damages if the person you are suing does not have assets in Canada.
Nova Scotia’s Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act deals with cyber-bullying, intimate images and personal privacy online. The law aims to protect people from being bullied online, or from having intimate images of themselves shared without their consent. Cyber-bullying is when someone uses electronic communication, like email, text messaging or social media communication, to harm your health or well-being. They might be doing this on purpose to hurt you or they might not care about hurting you.
Examples of cyber-bullying:
- creating a website, blog or profile that takes your identity
- sharing sensitive personal information or breaking your confidence
- threatening, intimidating, harassing or scaring you online
- making false statements about you
- communications that are grossly offensive, indecent, or obscene
- encouraging you to commit suicide.
Cyber-bullying can include encouraging or forcing someone else to do these things.
The law also protects you if someone distributes a private intimate image of you, such as an intimate photograph, film, or video, without your consent. An intimate image is one that is private, and shows sexual activity or nudity or partial nudity. It is an image you have good reason to think will stay private.
For example, without asking you and to try to hurt you, your former partner posts a private, sexually explicit, intimate picture of you on Facebook that you had good reason to think was going to stay private.
A cyber-protection order can order the person to stop the bullying and/or sharing of images, and do things like:
- stop the person from contacting you
- order that they take down or disable access to an intimate image or communication about you; and/or
- award damages to the victim.
You can apply to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for a cyber-protection order — the Small Claims Court cannot make those orders. You can apply with a lawyer’s help or on your own. A parent or guardian of a victim under the age of 19 can also apply to Supreme Court for a cyber-protection order. You can get information about applying to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for a cyber-protection order at courts.ns.ca.
Nova Scotia’s CyberScan Unit oversees Nova Scotia’s Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act and can give you help and information, including about applying to court for a cyber-protection order. Contact CyberScan at novascotia.ca/cyberscan/ or call 902-424-6990 or 1-855-702-8324.
For more information
- Find a lawyer in private practice
- Information about going to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia at courts.ns.ca
- Free Legal Clinic for people who are representing themselves at the Supreme Court
- Nova Scotia Defamation Act
- Online bullying and harassment support - CyberScan at novascotia.ca/cyberscan/ or call 902-424- 6990 or 1-855-702-8324.
Last updated January 2021
Acknowledgments: This content was reviewed for legal accuracy by Robert Mroz at McInnes Cooper. Thank you to Schulich School of Law student Michael Evoy for support in its development.
Content adapted, with permission, from People’s Law School of BC.
Lost Income from Motor Accident
I was injured in a motor vehicle accident and now I can't work. How can I recover that lost income?
You can make a claim for lost income under the no-fault accident benefits section of your own automobile insurance policy. These are also called section B accident benefits. You can claim these benefits no matter who was at fault for the accident. To make a claim contact the insurance company as soon as possible. An insurance adjuster will be appointed to process your claim. You should talk with a lawyer before you meet with the adjuster. You may be asked to have a medical examination and to sign a release form before any benefits are paid to you. This form may limit your legal options down the road, so read it carefully and take it to a lawyer before you sign it. The insurance company will also require that you complete a proof of loss statement. If another driven caused the accident, you may be able to claim against his or her insurance. We'll talk more about this later.
How much money can I expect from the no-fault accident benefits for lost income?
You can get reimbursed for lost income if you were working at the time of the accident, and have been off work for at least 7 days. Also, if you are between the ages of 18-65 and have worked for six of the previous 12 months before the accident, you could also qualify for income replacement. The rate is generally 80% of your gross weekly income, to a maximum of $250 per week (as of April 1, 2012 and after). Lost income benefits from your automobile insurer will be reduced by the amount of money you get, or could get for your income loss, from other sources such as Employment Insurance or a workplace disability insurance plan. No-fault benefits for lost income will continue as long as you can show that your injuries prevent you from doing the essential duties of your usual work, generally up to a maximum period of 2 years. After two years you can only get benefits if you cannot do any type of work at all.
If the other driver was at fault, you can claim the full amount of lost wages from his or her insurance.
Are there any other restrictions on getting section B benefits?
Yes. For example, a driver who is convicted of an alcohol-related driving offence connected to the accident, or who was not properly licenced or qualified to drive the vehicle when the accident occurred, will not be eligible for these no-fault benefits. You should talk to a lawyer if you are denied section B accident benefits.
Do passengers and pedestrians also have access to no-fault accident benefits?
Yes, passengers can file a claim under the policy of the car they were in. Pedestrians can file a claim under the policy of the car that struck them.
Is there another way for me to recover lost income?
If someone else besides you is found to have been at least partly at fault in causing the accident, you can seek compensation from his or her insurance company. You may be able to negotiate a settlement, but if not, you may have to hire a lawyer and start a lawsuit. For collisions after November 1, 2003 such a lawsuit should be started within 3 years from the date of the accident. In some cases, such as those involving government employees, this period may be shorter. If you are awarded damages, the court may deduct any no-fault accident benefits that you received. You may also have disability benefits available in your own personal insurance coverage.
If my injury happened at work, is this process any different?
Yes, most work-related injuries are covered by the Workers' Compensation Board under the Workers' Compensation Act. You may not have to deal with anyone's insurance company unless you elect to do so instead of accepting workers' compensation benefits.
Last reviewed: April 2017
Medical Malpractice & Complaints
I don't think my doctor is doing a very good job, and I don't trust the doctor's diagnosis, what can I do?
When dealing with an important health issue, it may be a good idea to get a second opinion from another doctor. If the conduct of your doctor seems improper, you may file a written complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia. The usual process is for the College to send a copy of your complaint to your doctor, who then has 30 days to respond. In most circumstances you will be provided with a copy of the doctor's response. The College of Physicians and Surgeons will then investigate your complaint and, depending on their findings, may dismiss the complaint, counsel and/or caution the doctor, offer mediation, require the doctor to undergo an assessment, or attempt to resolve the matter with a formal hearing. You can contact the College's Professional Conduct Department at 902-422-5823 or 1-877-282-7767. Please note that the College of Physicians and Surgeons does not deal with medical malpractice or negligence claims - those are dealt with by the civil courts.
Can I sue my doctor for making a mistake?
Medical professionals are highly trained, but they may still make mistakes. Not all mistakes will result in liability. As a general rule, the courts will expect your doctor to meet the same standards as other similarly trained professionals in the same area. For example, the standards expected of a specialist in a hospital may be higher than those expected of a general practitioner in a rural clinic. Therefore, to be successful in court, you and your lawyer will need to show that your doctor's actions were below the standards for comparable doctors. Suing can be a long and complicated process. You should get legal advice before you decide what to do.
After surgery I was told that there were unexpected complications, shouldn't the doctor have warned me and can I sue for this?
It may not necessarily be malpractice if a treatment or surgery does not go as well as expected. Sometimes the body reacts to treatment in an unexpected way, or there are complications that a fully competent doctor would not have foreseen. Your lawyer's research will investigate whether your doctor should have been aware of the risks and whether you should have been warned. Based on this research, your lawyer can advise you on the chances for a successful lawsuit.
Will I be able to get copies of my medical records to support my complaint or lawsuit?
Yes, while your medical records are the property of the doctor or facility which provided the health care, you and your lawyer are legally entitled to copies. Click here for information about access to personal health records under Nova Scotia's Personal Health Information Act.
Is there a time limit for suing a health care professional?
According to a Nova Scotia law called the Limitation of Actions Act, you have two years to start a civil lawsuit, from the date you "discover" that you have a claim. If you are under 19 years of age or of unsound mind, then the two-year period starts from the time that you reach 19 or when you become mentally competent. In the meantime, however, your parent or guardian may sue on your behalf. The two-year limit also applies if you want to sue a healthcare professional other than a doctor, such as nurses. You'll find more information about time limits for suing in Nova Scotia Department of Justice publication on the Limitation of Actions law.
If I received medical treatment outside of Nova Scotia, can I sue in a Nova Scotia court?
Most likely you will have to sue the doctor where the medical services were provided. However, under some circumstances, the courts have allowed patients to file their lawsuit within their home province. This is an issue you will need to discuss with your lawyer.
Can I sue a doctor who tried to help me at the scene of an accident?
Under Nova Scotia's Medical Act a doctor who voluntarily provides emergency first aid cannot be sued. The only exception to this is where the doctor's act or failure to act would constitute negligence when compared to another doctor of 'ordinary experience, learning and skill.'
Last reviewed: August 2017
Personal Injury Claims
What is a personal injury?
A personal injury can include physical injury, sickness or disease, psychological and emotional injury.
How much will my claim be worth?
Compensation is based on the difference between your life before and after the accident. Therefore, how much compensation you may receive will vary according to the seriousness of your injury. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to include some or all of the following in your claim: pain and suffering including loss of enjoyment of life, loss of income for missed work, loss of future income if your injury will interfere with working, no longer being able to perform daily household tasks and any out of pocket expenses, such as medical and travel bills and prescriptions. It is important that you get legal advice about your particular circumstances.
Does it matter where the accident occurred?
It might. For example, if the accident was related to your employment, the Workers' Compensation Act provides for a compensation program that will address your financial, medical and rehabilitative needs. Under Workers' Compensation, you don't have to prove that anyone else was at fault in order to receive benefits.
You don't need a lawyer to file a Workers' Compensation claim. For more information about Workers' Compensation, contact the Workers Compensation Board listed under 'Labour' in the government section of the telephone book, or call 1.800.870.3331 in the Halifax Regional Municipality or 1.800.880.0003 in the Sydney area, or visit their website at http://www.wcb.ns.ca
Does it matter who was at fault?
In some cases, this is very important. If someone else's negligence caused your injury, in most cases you can sue them for damages. However, if your own behaviour contributed to the accident, the amount of compensation you receive might be less than it would have been had you been a completely innocent by-stander. If your injury was simply an "act of nature", that is, it cannot be attributed to any person, then you may have to rely on your own accident insurance.
If I'm injured in a motor vehicle accident, what effect would the cap on general damages have on me?
The general damages cap limits pain and suffering awards for minor injuries.
There are two cap time periods. Neither affects claims for other types of compensation, such as lost income and medical expenses, which are in addition to the general damages cap compensation.
The first applies to motor vehicle accidents that happened on or after November 1, 2003 and up to April 27, 2010. Pain and suffering awards for minor injuries during this period are limited to $2,500.
Nova Scotia's Insurance Act defines a 'minor injury' in this cap period as a personal injury that:
a) does not result in a permanent serious disfigurement;
b) does not result in a permanent serious impairment of an important bodily function caused by continuing injury which is physical in nature; OR
c) resolves within 12 months following the accident.
For motor vehicle accidents that happened on or after April 28, 2010 the general damages cap has risen to $8,768 (2019- indexed to inflation; click here for previous years) and now only applies to sprains, strains and certain types of whiplash and not broken bones, etc.
The legal definition of a minor injury is complicated. It is therefore very important that you speak with a lawyer about your particular situation.
Are there other sources of compensation for an injury?
Other potential sources include Employment Insurance sick benefits, Canada Pension Plan disability benefits, short term disability and long term disability benefits under a group plan that you may have through your employer, provincial income assistance, and benefits which are included in motor vehicle insurance policies.
Last reviewed: Jan 2019
Slip and Fall
Law that applies to a slip and fall
Nova Scotia's Occupiers' Liability Act, as well as principles established in court cases, apply to most slip and fall injuries. This Act says that an occupier has a duty to see that each person entering on the premises is reasonably safe while there. Almost all workplace injuries are covered under the Workers' Compensation Act.
Who is an occupier?
A. An occupier is a property owner and/or operator. More specifically, Nova Scotia's Occupiers' Liability Actsays that an 'occupier' includes:
i) a person who is in physical possession of the premises; or
ii) a person who is responsible for, and has control over, the condition of or activities on the premises, or over people allowed to enter the premises.
' Premises' include, among other things, land and buildings, water, ships and vessels, fixed structures, etc.
Most business and home insurance policy include a section that covers occupiers' liability.
Occupier's duty of care
A. The duty of care requires an occupier take reasonable care to prevent injuries to visitors from unusual dangers that the occupier knows about, or should have known about. This duty applies to the condition of the premises and activities on the premises, and to the conduct of third parties on the premises.
I slipped and fell on someone else's property. I hurt my back. Does the property owner have to compensate me for my injuries?
Maybe. The answer depends on the specific circumstances of the accident, and particularly whether the property owner satisfied its duty to take reasonable steps to protect facility users. For example, if the stairwell was poorly lit and you slipped on a broken step, and the owner had not taken reasonable care to repair the step and improve the lighting in the stairwell, they might be financially responsible for your injuries.
Do I need to get legal advice?
It is wise to talk with a lawyer if you are injured on someone else's property or you are being sued by someone who was injured on your property. The lawyer can give you advice based on the circumstances of your case, how the law may apply and the compensation that might be awarded. Click here for ways to find a lawyer.
Will I have to go to court?
Usually you only go to court if you and the occupier or the occupier's insurance company cannot agree on liability and/or the amount of compensation.
What factors does the court consider in deciding if an occupier satisfied his or her duty of care to the injured person?
Factors a court would consider include :
- whether the occupier knew, or ought to have known, that the person was on the premises
- the injured person's ability to appreciate the danger. For example, there is a higher duty to protect children
- the reason the person was on the premises. For example, was the person invited or trespassing or intending to commit a crime on the property
- any efforts the occupier made to warn people about the danger, or to discourage people from running the risk. For example, was the property or the danger fenced or were there warning signs
- whether, under the circumstances, the occupier should reasonably have been expected to provide protection against the risk.
The Occupiers' Liability Act also sets out a number of circumstances when a person entering certain types of premises is deemed to assume a greater degree of risk.
Last reviewed: April 2017