Under the Nova Scotia Insurance Act, the legal definition of a minor injury is a “sprain, strain or whiplash-associated disorder”. These types of injuries are often referred to as “soft tissue injuries”. Minor injuries can sometimes lead to a serious impairment depending on how severe they are or you do not receive the proper medical treatment.
While you may consider your injuries to be “minor”, it is recommended that you consult with medical and legal professionals before making an official insurance claim. Relying on your own judgment for how severe your injuries may be could result in undervaluing your personal injury claim and the benefits you are entitled to.
What is the Minor Injury Cap?
The Nova Scotia government has placed a limit or “cap” on the amount of compensation a car accident victim can claim for pain and suffering from injuries that are defined as “minor”. The minor injury cap does not apply to monetary losses, such as lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, loss of housekeeping services, and loss of future earning ability.
How to Determine Whether an Injury is Minor?
According to the Nova Scotia Insurance Act, a minor injury is classified as a sprain, strain, or whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) that does not result in a serious impairment.
The Automobile Accident Minor Injury Regulations under the Insurance Act define each type of minor injury as follows:
- Sprain: An injury to one or more tendons, ligaments, or both.
- Strain: An injury to one or more muscles.
- Whiplash-Associated Disorder: Other than an injury that exhibits neurological signs that are objective, demonstrable, definable, and clinically relevant, or a fracture or dislocation of the spine.
The responsibility falls on the injured party to prove that their injury is or is not minor. This determination must be accompanied by evidence of one or more medical practitioners trained and experienced in the assessment and treatment of personal injury. Typically there is a waiting period of at least a year to know if a case will fall under the minor injury cap. This waiting period is the average amount of time to know if you have suffered chronic injuries or impairments from a car accident. If your injuries or resulting damages are considered permanent, you may be entitled to compensation above the cap.
What Injuries are Not Subject to the Minor Injury Cap?
Even if an injury meets the legal definition of a minor injury, it may not fall under the cap if it results in serious impairment. Regulations under the Insurance Act define a serious impairment as an injury that results in a substantial inability to perform the following:
- Essential duties of your employment
- Essential duties of your education or job training
- Your normal activities of daily living
What is considered a major injury?
Some of the most serious automobile collision injuries are broken or fractured bones, concussions, chronic pain disorder, traumatic brain injuries, psychological trauma, paralysis, coma, and internal bleeding or organ damage. There is no cap on the amount of compensation you can receive for pain and suffering from major or “non-minor” injuries.
How Much is the Cap?
Since 2010, the minor injury cap has increased in accordance with the Consumer Price index. In January 2020, the government of Nova Scotia released the adjusted cap for minor injuries, which is up $143 from 2019 for a new cap of $8,911. The minor injury cap applies to the year the accident occurs. For instance, if your accident took place in November 2019, then that minor injury cap for that year would apply.
Over the last 10 years, the adjusted amounts for the minor injury cap are as follows:
- 2010 – $7,500
- 2011 – $7,664
- 2012 – $7,956
- 2013 – $8,100
- 2014 – $8,213
- 2015 – $8,352
- 2016 – $8,385
- 2017 – $8,486
- 2018 – $8,579
- 2019 – $8,768
- 2020 – $8,911
In simple terms, these amounts were put in place to save insurance companies money. Insurance providers reported they were overpaying for car accident claims, so they asked the Nova Scotia government to cap insurance claims for minor injuries to limit the amount of compensation car accident victims are entitled to.
When is the Minor Injury Cap Not Applied?
Determining whether the minor injury cap applies to your claim can significantly impact the amount of compensation you receive after a car accident. If you were injured in a car accident, the financial calculations for your physical pain and emotional distress are complex. Establishing the damages in the aftermath of an automobile collision requires a detailed analysis of the required medical treatment, impact on the victim’s quality of life, employment prospects, and other factors to evaluate if the injury is defined as minor and what the appropriate level of compensation is.
Non-Motor Vehicle Claims
The cap for minor injuries only applies to pain and suffering caused by a car accident. Suppose you are seeking compensation for a personal injury with soft tissue damage related to another type of accident. In that case, the minor injury cap will not apply.
WAD Level 3 & 4
The minor injury cap only applies to grade 1 and grade 2 whiplash-associated disorders. WAD 1 has no physical signs of whiplash, but there may be neck stiffness, pain or tenderness. WAD 2 may include reduced motion in flexibility, extension or rotation. WAD 3 and 4 injuries are considered to be more severe. They involve signs of a neurological deficit, hypersensitivity, as well as a fracture or dislocation.
Also referred to as a mild traumatic brain injury, concussions are a common car accident injury that often goes unnoticed or undiagnosed until related symptoms appear. Symptoms of a concussion may include a loss of consciousness, memory loss, dizziness or disorientation, visual or hearing impairment, agitation, and slurred speech.
It is important to remember that not all injuries are physical, and a collision can be a very devastating experience. Any claim of emotional or psychological distress resulting from a car accident-related injury are arguably not subject to the minor injury cap.
Dental injuries can be direct or indirect, depending on the impact of the crash sustained by the accident victim. Any soft tissue related injuries to the jaw may fall under the cap. The exception is an injury to the teeth or jaw bone and injuries that cause the jaw to click. Common types of dental injuries that can occur during a car accident are chipped, fractured or dislodge teeth, root fracture, and a broken or dislocated jaw.
Can You Dispute a Minor Injury Claim?
Insurance companies in Nova Scotia will often try to argue that an injury listed in a car accident claim falls under the minor injury cap, when this may not be the case. You can dispute the minor injury claim or the amount of compensation you are offered directly with your insurance provider or in court. You must provide medical documentation that shows your injuries are outside of the legal definition of a “minor injury”. If you are pursuing legal action, you should consider contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer to help assess and build your case.
Contact Our Experienced Lawyers at Valent Legal
Regardless of how severe your injuries may be, the physical and emotional distress from a car accident can leave a permanent impact on your life. At Valent Legal, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial challenges victims face after a vehicle collision. If you are unsure about your case being classified as a minor personal injury claim, contact one of our experienced car accident lawyers today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
We are dedicated to helping car accident victims across Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick seek justice – no matter their ability to pay for upfront expenses. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay any legal fees until you get a settlement or win a judgment in court.
Our car accident lawyers are prepared to manage the claims process for you, build a strong case, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent your best interests in court. We pride ourselves on providing a friendly, down-to-earth client experience that allows you to focus on recovering from your injuries. At the same time, we do everything in our power to get you the maximum financial recovery you deserve.