Newfoundland and Labrador’s insurance industry has struggled for many years to find a balance between providing affordable insurance rates for drivers and creating a profitable and competitive market for insurance companies. Recent amendments to Newfoundland and Labrador’s Automobile Insurance Act aim to address this.
These amendments also tighten the timeline for car accident victims who intend to pursue a personal injury lawsuit in Newfoundland and Labrador.
How have Newfoundland and Labrador’s insurance laws changed?
On January 1, 2020, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador implemented changes to the Automobile Insurance Act, the legislation which governs automobile insurance in the province. A December 2019 news release from Service NL states that the Act was amended “to help stabilize insurance rates while enhancing consumer protection.”
The following changes came into effect this month:
- Insurers will begin to offer rate reductions for consumers whose automobiles are equipped with winter tires.
- Insurers will begin to offer usage-based insurance using telematics systems. Telematics technology allows the insurer to track information about how, when and where vehicles are being driven. Rate reductions could apply depending on the data collected.
- A person intending on commencing a personal injury lawsuit arising directly or indirectly from the use of a motor vehicle must serve written notice of the intention to commence the action on the insured within 120 days following the date of the accident.
- In a personal injury lawsuit, the Plaintiff will not be able to claim prejudgment interest for the period prior to the commencement of their action.
- All bodily injury claims made directly to an insurer will now be subject to a higher deductible in an attempt to reduce premiums. This deductible will not impact personal injury lawsuits claiming damages.
- Motorists will now deal with their own insurance companies for property damage claims in accidents for which they are not at fault. This will encourage faster resolution of claims and a better experience for the consumer.
- The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has made it the law for insurers to notify the Registrar of Motor Vehicles of the cancellation or expiry of insurance policies.
- The Minister will now reconsider the Act every five years to ensure its relevancy and adequacy.
There are important takeaways for car accident injury victims.
How long do I have to file a car accident claim in Newfoundland and Labrador?
Generally speaking, an injury victim has two years from the date of a car accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in Newfoundland and Labrador (however, there are exceptions that extend this timeline). These amendments to the Act introduce a new step in the litigation process: serving a notice of intention to pursue a personal injury claim on the Defendant within 120 days of the accident date.
If you do not file this notice, you can still pursue a personal injury claim within the two-year limitation period. However, you will not receive a specific type of compensation from the Defendant called prejudgment interest.
What is prejudgment interest?
Prejudgment interest is interest on the funds awarded in a lawsuit. This interest accrues from the commencement of the lawsuit until the claim is resolved and is paid by the Defendant to the Plaintiff.
What happens if I do not file a claim within 120 days of the accident?
If you do not file notice to commence a personal injury lawsuit within 120 days of the accident date, then you will not receive the prejudgment interest that accrued between 120 days post-accident and the day you actually give notice. You can still pursue a personal injury claim, but you will not receive maximum compensation.
When should I contact a car accident lawyer?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Newfoundland and Labrador and the accident was not your fault, it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. You should serve a notice on the Defendant within 120 days of the accident in order to receive full compensation for your injuries, so seeking legal advice right away helps ensure that your lawyer has adequate time to meet this deadline.
At MacGillivray Law, our lawyers are dedicated to keeping our clients informed of their rights and securing them maximum compensation for their injuries. If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact us today for a free consultation.
MacGillivray Law is a personal injury law firm with offices in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. We serve clients all across Canada.
If you cannot travel to one of our offices, we will accommodate your circumstances and travel needs. We can provide a consultation by phone, Zoom, or FaceTime, or travel to meet you in your home when required.
If you would like to learn your legal options at no obligation, contact us today to set up a free consultation.