Insurance agent writing on clipboard while examining car after accident claim

A car accident can be a life-altering experience, especially if you get injured during the collision. In addition to the cost of vehicle repairs, you may incur medical expenses, treatment costs, and lost wages as a result of the injuries you sustained.

When you are recovering from a car crash, the last thing you want to do is deal with insurance companies and the claims process. However, motor vehicle laws and insurance regulations in Nova Scotia require you to submit a claim within a certain period of time to receive compensation. Even if you think you are at fault for the accident, you may still be eligible to receive benefits through your insurance provider under Nova Scotia’s no-fault car insurance system.

How does your insurance company assess fault?

After you report an accident to your insurance company, an adjuster is assigned to your claim to investigate the circumstances of the accident. Your insurance provider will determine the degree of fault to be assigned to each driver based on the rules set out by the Automobile Insurance Fault Determination Regulations. These rules are used to assess the property damage coverages and to ensure the premiums of the driver who was more than 25 percent at-fault are appropriately adjusted.

You may be tempted to delay filing a claim until you know the extent of damages to your vehicle, what the cost of your medical expenses will be, or how your employment will be impacted. It is important to be aware of the time limit to report a car accident, known in law as “limitation periods”, that dictate how long you have to file a claim before you are no longer entitled to benefits or legal action.

When Does a Limitation Period Start?

A limitation period typically begins on the date you have been injured, often referred to as “at the time of loss”. However, limitation periods can fluctuate and are subject to exceptions.

Two-Year Limitation Period

The statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit are set by legislation. For injury claims in Nova Scotia, there is a two year limitation period from the date the accident occurred. There are, however, circumstances in which the two-year deadline could be extended. For example, suppose you are involved in a car accident that resulted in an injury that does not immediately manifest itself. In that case, the limitation period does not start until you discover (or reasonably should discover) that you are injured.

Ultimate Fifteen-Year Limitation Period

The Limitations Act prevents someone from filing a claim any later than 15 years after the day the car accident occurred. Even if you discover your injury and identify that it was caused by the car accident that took place more than 15 years ago, you are barred from taking legal action to pursue financial compensation.

What is the Discoverability Rule?

In many Canadian provinces, the limitation periods are often subject to a “Discoverability Rule”. The discoverability rule is applied when some people do not have the time, have the capacity, or lacked the ability to sue by the limitation dates set by legislation. Since the limitation period starts from the time an injury is discovered, it can difficult for people to know if they have gone past their limitation period and lost the right to sue.

The exact time a limitation period starts becomes more difficult if the injured is unconscious, a child, on mind-altering pain killers, under some other mental disability, or suffering from circumstances that limit their capacity to sue within the two-year limitation period for car accidents in Nova Scotia, Canada. An important note to make is if a legal issue has not been discovered for many years, the “ultimate limitation period” may apply. To know if the discoverability applies in your case, contact our car accident lawyers to review your claim.

When Should I Start Filing my Claim?

A good rule of thumb is to initiate the claims process as soon as possible following a car accident. That said, you may have more pressing concerns to take care of, or your injuries may prevent you from filing a claim right away. You do have some flexibility for when you are required to start filing your claim. There is a time limit to report a car accident claim with your insurance provider, in addition to the time limitation period to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The amount of time you have to file an auto claim with an insurance company will depend on your policy. Typically, you must inform your insurance company within seven days of when the car accident occurred. You must file an accident benefits claim within 30 days of the accident. If your claim for accident benefits is denied, you have two years to take action against the insurance company. If you intend to sue the other driver, you must provide written notice of your intent within 120 days of the accident. You then have up to two years to pursue legal action.

Notice of Intended Action

In some cases, the law requires individuals to provide formal notice to potential Defendants before one can lawfully file a lawsuit. This is often referred to as a “notice of intended action.” While every law firm will have a slightly different version of this type of notice letter, most should include similar elements, such as identifying the injured person, some material facts relating to the allegations of the injury, and specifying what the Defendant is being sued for.

Limitation periods for sending a notice of intended action can differ depending on who caused the injury. For example, if you are suing a physician, surgeon, engineer, dentist, or other regulated professional, the limitation period in some provinces can be one year from the date of the accident. Time limitations for notice letters are set by various pieces of legislation, making it difficult to determine if you are within your legal rights to sue.

Limitation periods can also vary depending on whether or not you are suing a government agent. For example, in Nova Scotia, the Proceedings against the Crown Act requires that the Provincial Agent be given a minimum of 60 days’ notice before you file your lawsuit. Similarly, if you are suing a Municipal Agent, the Municipal Government Act requires that you provide the municipality with at least 30 days’ notice before you file your lawsuit. There is no notice requirement for bringing a claim against the Federal Government in Nova Scotia.

These various requirements make it all the more important for you to speak with a personal injury lawyer to ensure that you do not miss any limitation period due for sending a notice of intended action.

What benefits am I entitled to under my insurance policy?

While the details in auto insurance policies vary between providers and the province you live in, there is a standard form auto insurance policy in Nova Scotia outlined in the Nova Scotia Insurance Act. Understanding the standard form’s main four sections will help make car accident claims more straightforward when dealing with your insurance company.

Section A: Third Party Liability

This section provides coverage for anyone who is hurt or any damages caused by you, or anyone driving your car with your permission. The minimum coverage required by law is $500,000.

Section B – Accident Benefits

The No-Fault benefits under Section B are paid to you regardless of who is considered at-fault for the accident. This section provides coverage for the policyholder, the driver and any passengers in the insured vehicle (including passengers in an insured rideshare vehicle), pedestrians who are hit by the insured vehicle, as well as dependents and family members who were occupants of other vehicles. These accident benefits include coverage for medical expenses, loss of income, housekeeping expenses, funeral expenses, and death benefits.

Section C – Property Damage Coverage

This section of the policy outlines the amount of coverage your insurance company will provide to cover the costs of repairs to the insured vehicle. Coverage is not mandatory under Section C. Most insurance companies require a damage deposit paid by the policyholder before any payments are made.

Section D – Uninsured Driver Coverage

Under the standard form auto policy, Section D outlines that your insurance policy will pay your claim if you suffer a loss or injury as a result of an uninsured driver (a driver that does not have insurance) or an unidentified driver (a hit and run, for example). Section D only takes effect if no claim can be made against another driver’s third-party liability policy or if the accident happens outside of Nova Scotia.

Contact a Halifax Car Accident Lawyer

Our dedicated car accident lawyers at Valent Legal understand the devastating impact a car accident injury can have on your physical and emotional state. Our team is prepared to manage your claim for you, negotiate on your behalf, gather evidence, and represent your best interests in court to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

The insurance regulations and motor vehicle laws in Nova Scotia are complicated. Pursuing financial compensation on your own could result in a significant financial loss. Our team of personal injury lawyers has the knowledge and experience to pursue the compensation you are legally entitled to, so you can recover and reclaim your life.


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