Some car accident injury claims in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island fall under a “minor injury cap“. This cap limits the maximum amount (“damages”) a person can receive for compensation for pain and suffering.
Definition of “minor injuries” varies in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI
Nova Scotia has a clear definition – the government qualifies “sprains, strains or whiplash” as minor injuries. You may have heard these referred to as “soft tissue injuries” because they affect nerves and muscles, which are known medically as “soft tissue”. Anything beyond those injuries will probably be considered a serious injury.
New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island
The rules in New Brunswick and PEI are a bit more complex. Rather than specifying what a minor injury is, the government lists what isn’t a minor injury. The NB and PEI governments define a serious injury as something that has a substantial andpermanent impact on your work or daily activities. Anything that doesn’t have a substantial or permanent impact is then classified as a minor injury.
This means that you must prove your injury will substantially affect you for the rest of your life; otherwise your claim will probably fall under the cap. This can create situations where whiplash can be considered a serious injury, or where injuries that seem very severe are limited by the cap because they are not permanent or have little to no impact on your ability to work or perform your daily activities.
How does the injury affect your life?
Your occupation and hobbies can also be a factor in determining whether your injury is “minor” or not. For example if you sustain an ankle injury and it heals back to a point where you’re still able to walk and run, the injury will probably be classified as minor. However, if your job or hobbies require you put your ankle under greater stress – for example if you are a dance teacher or regularly play hockey – and your injury permanently prevents you from doing these things, it may be considered a serious injury and your claim would not be limited by the compensation cap.
What should you do if you think you have a minor personal injury?
There is usually a waiting period of at least one year to know if a case will fall under the insurance cap, because it can take that long to know if you will suffer from permanent injuries and problems from the accident – and your injuries must be permanent to receive compensation above the cap. Despite that, it’s still a good idea to see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident to properly document your injuries.
Do not rely on opinions from insurance representatives or even your own health care providers on whether the insurance cap applies to you. It takes time and expert analysis (from doctors and other professionals) to determine whether your injury will have a substantial and permanent impact on your life. You can obtain a free consultation with a lawyer who has experience in dealing with minor injury cap laws to help you determine the best course of action.