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About the Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice in Nova Scotia

Victor Lewin - Tuesday, October 04, 2016

When an injury or death is caused by medical malpractice, you must take legal action within the applicable statute of limitations. If you file a legal claim later than the expiry of the time limit, it could be too late, and the claim considered statute barred. The time limits and some exceptions that may apply are described here below.

Limitations Act

Every claim brought before a Nova Scotia (NS) Court must comply with the governing Acts passed by the NS legislature. The Limitation of Actions Act (the “Act”), recently updated with changes that came into effect on September 1, 2015, sets out the length of time a party has to make a claim against another party or parties who may have been caused them harm. The basic limitation period is two years, including for personal injury or breach of contract absent special circumstances that stop the clock from running. In the recent amendments to the Act, the Court has the discretionary authority to disallow a defence based on a limitation period.

Principle of Discovery to Pursue a Remedy

The new Act codifies the principles of discovery and makes discoverability applicable to all claims. This means that, from when the individual first ought to have known about the event or the date it actually occurred, he or she has two years to file a claim. Discovery depends on the concept of presumption, which means you are presumed to have known of the injury on the day the act or omission on which the claim is based, unless you can prove that you were unaware of a mistake, injury or omission until a later date. Several examples of delayed diagnoses and deaths can be found, such as misdiagnosis of heart attack, cancer, stroke, blot clots, broken bones and serious fractures.

Some exemptions from the Act’s default limitations apply. For example, claims for which a limitation period has been established under another enactment (e.g., a shorter limit may apply if you are suing a municipality) are exempted, as are appeals, which effectively extend the time period from the injury.

Limitation Periods and Family Member Claims 

Certain family members (e.g., parents, grandparents, children and spouses (including common law, but not siblings) who wish to proceed with claims related to the loss of care, companionship, guidance or income, due to medical errors suffered by a family member can do so within the specified time limitations. The court can extend the basic two year limit if supporting facts were recently discovered that were not previously known, or if the circumstances warrant court intervention to make a determination of equitable justice for all parties concerned.

Ultimate Limitation Period  

Due to the recent changes to the Act, an ultimate limitation period of 15 years will apply for claims that may not be discovered right away, such as undetected medical complications from surgery. This means you have up to 15 years from the date of the act or omission to start a civil lawsuit in most circumstances. 

Exceptions for Minors or Disabled Persons

The new Limitation of Actions Act carries forward the rule from the former Act that stops the limitation period while a person is a minor (under age 19 in NS) or has a disability that renders him or her lacking legal capacity.

Consult With a Wagners Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Bridgwater NS 

A medical malpractice claim can be highly complicated, involving doctors, hospitals, support staff and any other regulated health practitioner that may not have met the standard of care. The medical malpractice lawyers at our Halifax law firm have the knowledge and experience to handle your claim successfully from the beginning until the end. We are always available to answer your questions and manage your case efficiently. If hired, we will follow all deadlines involved in your case, including the time limits imposed in the statute of limitations. Our lawyers in Halifax, NS have served many personal injury clients in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island on medical malpractice claims and have achieved for them fair compensation. Contact us to set up an appointment for your free initial consultation at 1-800-465-8794.

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