Nova Scotia confirms auto cap

Supreme Court upholds Nova Scotia's auto cap

New auto cap information June 1, 2010

The Supreme Court of Canada has effectively upheld Nova Scotia's $2,500 cap for minor auto injury claims. It has been reported that on May 27th the Supreme Court dismissed leave to appeal a December 2009 decision by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, which confirmed the constitutionality of the province's minor injury cap.

So this is the end of the line for the Charter challenge against Nova Scotia's auto cap. This has been going on for five years.
The end result of this process is that they have tripled the ceiling of the cap, from $2,500 to $7,500. this should increase the insurance companies boldily injury claims costs by 17%. Hopefully we will not be seeing resulting rate increases.

Background to this story

Similar to the situation in Alberta, Nova Scotia’s Court of Appeal has dismissed the challenge to the province’s $2,500 minor injury cap.

The court case is Hartling v. Nova Scotia and the Supreme Court panel set aside appeals to an earlier Supreme Court of Nova Scotia decision that deemed the cap constitutional.

Chief Justice Michael Macdonald, Justice Duncan Beveridge and Justice Jill Hamilton dismissed the first appeal. The first appear claimed the cap goes against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, concluding “the enactment and its regulations are valid.”

The Justices denied leave to appeal on the second front—that the government extended the cap’s reach beyond legislative intention—“because there is no longer an arguable issue to be resolved.” With this decision the panel has affirmed the legislation's original intention which was to reduce increasing insurance premiums. The appellants claim was to protect accident victims.

The panel's analysis of the case which had appeals from a girl who saw her father being hit by a car and accident victims had to consider the recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision. Alberta received a final decision when the Supreme Court declined to re-open the appeal after the cap was upheld.

The chronic pain sufferers will not necessarily be included in the cap. The current legislation allows accident victims to have sufficient car and compensation. There is still monetary compensation available for wages lost and other out-of-pocket expenses including the costs of future care Consideration will be made when the at fault driver's actions were conspicuously bad together with a commensurate contribution towards the accident victim’s legal bill.

The province of Nova Scotia is reviewing the cap. They are looking at options to amend the cap to prevent unfair treatment for those accident victims who do not quite fit. The Ministry of Finance is hoping to have some legislation to present by spring 2010.

Nova Scotia is trying to provide fair accident coverage without resulting in big insurance costs for the population. We will watch to see how this resolves.

The Premier Darrell Dexter has made a commitment to get rid of the province's $2,500 cap. Dexter's reasoning is that the cap is unfair. Since the provincial legislation offers a broad definition of what is a minor injury there have been quite a few people with more serious injuries only receiving the $2,500 in compensation.

An alternative that has been suggested is a system that allows the insurance companies to deduct a certain amount from the court-ordered awards for injuries. This way more people would look for compensation for non-monetary damages and it would also help to protect insurance companies from paying out big legal bills in challenging minor injury claims.