For 30 years, our team of personal injury lawyers have been helping Nova Scotians involved in motor vehicle accidents receive fair compensation for their injuries.
After an accident you may be wondering, is it worth pursuing a personal injury lawsuit? And how can a car accident lawyer help me with my personal injury claim?
Insurance companies make more profit when they pay less for insurance claims. The first offer the adjuster makes is not always the best, and the claim could be undervalued. While the legal process can take time, building a strong case and the threat of courtroom litigation can compel an insurance company to offer a fair settlement. In fact, most cases settle outside of court. An experienced personal injury lawyer will advocate on your behalf and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your accident injuries.
There are two insurance companies involved, one is your insurance company and it is the Section B automobile insurer. The other insurance company is for the at fault driver, not you, and is called the Section A insurer. Your relationship is very different.
What if my insurance company is the same as the other guys’?
Big insurance companies are merging and acquiring other automobile insurers. These insurance companies end up owning a lot of the market and are responding to many personal injury claims. It is common for your insurance company to be the same insurer for the person who is at fault for the car accident.
If your insurer is the same insurer for the at fault driver, this raises some issues. The insurance company should keep your file and information separate from the at fault driver’s. Even though the adjusters work for the same company and in the same office, they are not supposed to share information or talk about your case.
We will discuss more about the different rules and what someone in an accident can expect from the Section A (the other guy’s insurance) and Section B insurer (your insurance or the insurer for the car you are in). In short, though, and in theory, Section A is your adversary and has no obligation to do anything for you until a judge orders it. Section B insurance, however, is in a contract with you, and owes you a duty of good faith. They are supposed to help and assist you in receiving benefits provided under the policy.
Our team of injury lawyers will help you understand how motor vehicle insurance works in Nova Scotia, what the steps in the legal process are, and what kinds of insurance benefits are available to you. We will communicate with the insurance adjuster on your behalf and commence an injury lawsuit if needed. If you’re not receiving the benefits you’re entitled to, then we will step in and fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
What should I do right after a car accident occurred?
If you’ve sustained injuries in an accident at the fault of another driver, follow these steps to help protect your right to compensation and medical benefits.
- Call 911
- If you do not call 911, report the accident to the police
According to Section 98 of the Motor Vehicle Act, RSNS 1989, c 293, a driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person, or property damage that exceeds $2,000, must report the accident to the nearest police station within 24 hours.
Aside from the legal obligation to call the police if anyone has been injured in an auto accident, a police report is also valuable evidence in corroborating the facts of the case and proving who is at fault for the accident.
- Gather information from the other driver and witnesses
At the scene of the accident, exchange insurance information and record the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all parties involved in the car accident, as well as contact information for any witnesses. If you have a cell phone, take a picture of the other driver’s license plate and insurance card. Gather as much information as possible. If the other driver is uninsured or flees the scene (in a hit and run), you still have legal options for getting compensation.
- Record the facts of the accident
Record as much detail about the accident scene as you can, such as the date, time, and location of the accident, the direction and speed of travel, the weather conditions, and the condition of the roadway. You should also describe the type of motor vehicle collision, i.e. whether it was a rear-end collision, side swipe collision, T-bone collision, collisions with objects or animal, vehicle rollover, left turn collision, recreational vehicle collision, cyclist collision, pedestrian accident, or other type of collision. A sketch of the accident scene showing how the vehicles were travelling, road names, and any traffic control (ex. stop sign, slow zone) can also be helpful.
- Take photographs
If possible, take photos of the car accident scene, including vehicle and surrounding property damage. If possible, do this before the vehicles are moved. Photos of your injuries can also be helpful in documenting the effects of the accident.
- Visit your healthcare provider
hether you’ve experienced serious injury or relatively minor problems, seek treatment from a healthcare professional, such as your family doctor, a walk-in clinic, or the hospital, as soon as possible after the car accident. Documentation of your treatment history is crucial medical evidence if you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Where medical treatment is recommended, you should follow through on that treatment to aid in your recovery. You can seek reimbursement for any out of pocket expenses, including medical costs.
- Notify your own insurance company
Call your adjuster to report the car accident. You will need to provide your insurer with the police report number if you are seeking coverage for damage to your vehicle. Under your insurance policy, you can arrange treatment for your injuries, such as physiotherapy or massage.
- Seek legal advice from a car accident lawyer
If you’ve been injured in a car accident at the fault of another person, it is important that you could benefit from speaking to a lawyer who helps injured people dealing with insurance companies. At MacGillivray Injury and Insurance Law, we offer a free consultation where we will review the facts of your case, including your medical evidence, assess any settlement offers, and explain your legal options.
In short: if you are in a car accident, your phone is your best tool. Use it to call 911, take pictures of the position of the vehicles, the damage to the vehicles, and photos of the other driver’s license and insurance.
Do I have to make a statement to the insurance company?
Statements to the insurer for the driver who was at fault
If you’ve been injured in an accident and the at-fault driver’s insurer asks you to provide a written or oral statement, it is often best to speak with an injury lawyer first before complying. You are not required to make a statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
In many ways the at fault driver’s insurance company is your adversary. They have no legal obligation to help you or even to provide you with compensation. They insure a third party – not you – and these obligations are to their stakeholders and the third party, not you.
Any statement you give to an insurance company after an accident can be used to undermine your claim, so it is important to be careful with what information you provide. While it is important to be transparent and truthful, insurance adjusters can misconstrue parts of your statement and interpret them in ways you did not intend, to portray you as untruthful and undervalue your claim. If you say something wrong, or inadvertently say it the wrong way, it could be used to hurt your claim down the road. A car accident lawyer will communicate with your insurer on your behalf and advise you throughout the legal process. Schedule a free consultation with our Halifax car accident lawyers to learn your rights.
If you do choose to give a statement to either insurance company, here are some tips:
- Answer the questions asked and don’t volunteer additional information.
- If you don’t know an answer, clearly state, “I don’t know.”
- Stick to the basics of the accident.
- Don’t admit to fault for the accident.
- Do not exaggerate the problems caused by your injuries – do not downplay the problems caused by your accident injuries.
- Don’t agree to a settlement without discussing your options with a lawyer, or at least give yourself time to research
- Keep it simple.
Statements to your own insurance company
If you have been injured in an accident in Nova Scotia, your own insurer, or the insurer for the car you were in, is called the Section B accident benefits insurer. You are in a contractual relationship with your Section B insurer. This means that you each have obligations and duties to one another under the contract. One of your duties is to provide them with the information they need to adjust your claim. If the Section B insurer wants to talk to you about the circumstances of the car accident or your injuries, you are obliged to cooperate if you want to remain entitled to benefits.
How to prove who is at fault for a car accident in Nova Scotia?
You prove fault in Nova Scotia by showing that a person’s driving was in contravention of motor vehicle laws or otherwise substandard. Under Nova Scotia’s injury law, proving fault in car accidents falls under the principles of negligence. Negligence refers to the failure of a person to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm or injury to another person. In order to prove negligence, four things must be proven:
- A duty of care is owed: A duty of care is a legal obligation to act reasonably and avoid harming others through your acts or omissions. A duty of care is owed between all motorists on the road. There is an expectation that all drivers will be held to the same standard in keeping themselves and others safe on the roads.
- A breach of standard of care occurred: The standard of care can be determined by looking at Nova Scotia traffic rules, as well as what might be expected by a reasonable person. The standard is breached where someone fails to comply with the traffic rules or does not take “reasonable care” driving in the circumstances. An example of failing to meet the standard of care is driving through a stop sign without stopping first. In order to prove that the other driver breached the standard of care, courts will review evidence such as testimony from the drivers involved in the accident, witness testimony, police charges laid, reports by accident reconstruction specialists, surveillance footage, and cell phone records.
- Causation: Causation requires that the actions (or inactions) of the at-fault party led to the injuries suffered by the other party.
- Damages: Damages, or losses, financial or otherwise, must have resulted. Without damages, there is no personal injury claim. Damages may include loss of income, medical care costs, and general pain and suffering.
What if you are partially at fault for a car accident injury in Nova Scotia?
Sometimes fault cannot be placed solely on one party involved in a car accident. In certain circumstances, the injured party can be found partially at fault for their own injuries. Where the injured party has done or failed to do something that contributed to their injuries, they will be considered contributorily negligent, and therefore partially at fault. One common factor leading to a finding of contributory negligence is failure to wear a seatbelt. Under Nova Scotia injury law since 2003, you are automatically 25% contributorily negligent for not wearing your seatbelt.
Experienced car accident lawyers will work to minimize the impact contributory negligence has on your insurance claim. Book a free consultation to learn more.
How long do I have to file a car accident lawsuit in Nova Scotia?
If you are injured in a car accident in Nova Scotia, you have two years to file a claim with the Court as dictated by the Limitation of Actions Act, SNS 2014, c 35. This deadline can potentially be extended in special circumstances, however it is best to assume that you only have two years to file your lawsuit.
There are other exceptions to the two year time limit for filing a car accident claim. If someone is under 19, the time limit does not start to run until they turn 19, so they would have until their 21st birthday to file a claim. Also, if someone is disabled to the point that their mental capacity is seriously compromised, the two year time limit may not apply to them. The mental incapacity would likely have to be serious enough that they cannot manage or understand basic affairs.
You might consider hiring a lawyer early rather than waiting until the last days before the two year time limit. Some of the advantages of getting a lawyer early after suffering injuries in a car accident are:
- The lawyer can file the claim with the Court to preserve your rights.
- The lawyer can gather your medical records, treatment charts, police report, and request narrative reports from your treatment providers.
- The lawyer can assist in dealing with your Section B accident benefits claim to help get some immediate help with lost wages and keep coverage in place for your treatment.
- The lawyer can help decide if and when to give a statement, help you prepare to make the process easier, and lessen worry, and then attend the statement with you.
- The lawyer in more serious cases can request special reports from independent doctors to get opinions and treatments plans related to your accident injuries. These are called independent medical examinations.
- The lawyer can retain engineers, other experts called actuaries, therapists, psychologist, and other experts to help prove fault or the effect of the accident on you.
- The lawyer should make themselves aware of the case law and damages awarded by the Courts for cases like yours.
- The lawyer can provide advice on the risks and benefits of settling or continuing to the next step.
- If you are disabled, the lawyer can help you access accident benefits.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you can schedule a free consultation with our personal injury lawyers to learn about the limitation period that applies to your claim.
How much is my car accident injury worth?
The severity of your injuries is a major factor in valuing your claim. Just like car accidents range in severity, from a minor accident such as hitting a parked car to a serious accident like a head-on collision, our clients’ injuries also range in severity, from less severe physical injuries such as whiplash and soft-tissue injuries, to serious injuries such as broken or fractured bones, to the most severe injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, paraplegia and quadriplegia. We also help people who suffer from chronic pain and psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, following a car accident.
An injury lawyer will assess the extent and impact of your injuries to determine fair claim compensation.
Damages are monetary awards intended to compensate you for the losses you’ve incurred as a result of your accident injuries. When valuing a motor vehicle accident claim, there are several categories of compensation that you can seek to recover from the wrongdoer, called heads of damages. A personal injury lawyer will assess each head of damages to determine if it applies to your claim.
Damages that you can claim in motor vehicle accidents include lost wages for time missed from work, decreased future earning capacity, medical expenses paid out of pocket, future medical care costs, housekeeping expenses, and general pain and suffering (called “general damages”) caused by the car accident. Our General Damages Guide provides a full explanation of each head of damages as well as examples of past general damage awards for various types of injuries. You can also use our Injury Claim Calculator to learn more about the factors a personal injury law firm would use to assess your claim’s value.
The minor injury cap
When your injuries are less severe, Nova Scotia’s minor injury cap may apply to the general damages portion of your claim. For an accident that took place in 2023, the current minor injury cap in Nova Scotia is set at $10,000. An accident lawyer can assess if the minor injury cap applies to you. Book a free consultation to learn more.
Section B insurance benefits
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Nova Scotia, you may have access to Section B no-fault accident benefits provided under your own insurance policy. These benefits cover reasonable and necessary medical expenses, coverage toward your lost wages, housekeeping benefits, and funeral and death benefits in the event of the death of a loved one. These benefits are available regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
Don’t settle for less
The best way to ensure that you receive fair claim compensation is to contact a law firm experienced in injury claims. They will assess the circumstances of your motor vehicle accident, assess the extent of your injuries, collect all necessary evidence and expert reports, and review applicable case law to determine a fair value for your insurance claim. Book a free consultation with our Halifax car accident lawyers to learn more.
How does car insurance work in Nova Scotia?
Under Nova Scotia’s Insurance Act, there are four sections of auto insurance that may apply to car accident victims: Sections A, B, C and D. Each Section has a specific purpose in helping you recuperate costs in a motor vehicle accident claim. A car accident lawyer will ensure that you receive all compensation that you are entitled to.
Section A of the Act applies when you are injured by a negligent driver. Section A insurance claims are made against the at-fault driver’s insurer to recover financial compensation for a victim’s injuries.
Section B covers mandatory accident benefits provided under your own insurance policy or that of the driver whose vehicle you were in as a passenger during the accident. These “no fault” benefits are available regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Section B covers some medical and rehabilitation expenses, an amount designated for your lost wages, housekeeping benefits, and funeral and death expenses. Learn more about Section B benefits in Nova Scotia.
Section C covers the cost of damage to your vehicle caused by the accident. This coverage is often included in the standard automobile policy, but is not mandatory in Nova Scotia. You should check with your individual insurance provider to see if Section C coverage is available to you.
Section D applies when you are injured by an uninsured driver or an unidentified driver, such as in a hit and run accident. Learn more about Section D insurance here.
Other types of motor vehicle collisions
We represent people who have been injured in many types of auto accidents, not only car accidents. In Nova Scotia, you can recover compensation for all accidents involving an “automobile” as defined by the Insurance Act. Aside from car accident claims, we help people who have been injured in motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and off road vehicle accidents, such as boats, ATVs, and snowmobiles.
Book a free consultation
We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that our fees are deducted as a percentage of the winning settlement or award, so you won’t pay anything until we resolve your case. If you cannot travel to either of our law offices in Halifax or New Glasgow, we travel to meet with seriously injured people across Nova Scotia. We also meet with clients by phone or virtually. Contact us today.
Have questions for our team?
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are Section B or "no-fault" insurance benefits?
- How can a lawyer help with my personal injury claim?
- Should I accept the settlement my insurance company offers me?
- How much is my injury claim worth?
- How can I help my personal injury lawsuit to get the best settlement?
- How long does a personal injury claim take?
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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.