Nova Scotia Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck Accident Liability in Nova Scotia
Trucking is an essential part of the Canadian economy. Trucks transport goods and products across provinces and even the country. While trucking is important, they can be deadly on the road. Commercial trucks can weigh up to 20 times as heavy as a passenger car, collisions can cause extensive damage to property, injuries to victims such as spinal cord and brain injuries as well as the loss of life. For victims, determining who was at fault in the accident is crucial to the amount of compensation they will receive in the event of an accident.
Nova Scotia has a statutory requirement for minimum third-party liability coverage of $500,000. Typically, most insurers will recommend a $1 million coverage. If the personal damages of an accident fall within the policy limits, the liability of the driver or the truck company is usually insignificant because the insurer will pay.
However, If the personal damages caused by a truck accident exceeds the policy limits, it becomes important to find the driver and the trucking company liable for the damages. Two considerations will have to be made:
1. The driver is an employee of the trucking company
Under the laws of Nova Scotia, If the driver was an employee of the trucking company, any negligence on the part of the employee/driver in carrying out his or her duties will be deemed to be the negligence of the employer/the trucking company. The employer will be deemed “vicariously” liable for the acts of the employee. In such cases, the compensation for personal damages is typically not a problem.
2. The driver is not an employee of the trucking company
Often, drivers and trucking companies will sign contracts to which they agree that the drivers are independent contractors and not employees of the company. When a driver is not an employee of the trucking company, it is less certain whether the fault is the company or the driver’s. In such situations, we look carefully at the actual business relationship between the driver and the trucking company to determine whether it met all the requirements of a valid contractor relationship or if it was more of an employee-employer relationship.
Some considerations we may examine may include:
- Did the driver have any business risk attached to fulfilling their duties?
- Could the driver set his or her own schedule?
- How integrated is the driver into the operations of the trucking company’s business?
- Did the company fail to maintain the vehicles in a proper state of repair?
- Did the company adequately train the driver?
- Did the company adequately vet drivers for experience?
- Did the company supervise driving schedules and enforce maximum driving times?
- Did the company ensure drivers had adequate training, such as the Workplace Hazardous Material Information Systems (WHMIS) training?
Since trucks are larger and more cumbersome than normal road cars, establishing negligence on the part of the driver or the company may be more complicated in some cases. Where liability is in question, we employ the services of automotive engineers, driving safety experts and accident reconstruction experts to analyze everything the driver or the company did against known industry standards of care. In most cases, a breach of one or more of the industry standards has led to the accident.
In Nova Scotia, when a court is deciding who was at fault for damage or loss caused by two or more persons, it may rely on the Contributory Negligence Act. The Act allows the court to approportion liability to the degree in which each person/party contributed to the damage, injury or loss of the victim of a commercial truck accident. This means that the court can hold the driver, shipper, trucking company and even the victim liable for their contribution to the accident.
Legal damages for victims and survivors of truck accidents will usually include the following:
- Past and future medical treatment costs
- Exemplary or punitive damages
- Past and future mental distress and physical pain
- Wrongful death and survival damages
- Past and future loss of earnings
- General damages for pain, suffering, and loss of amenities of life
- Past and future loss of valuable services (inability to do things around the house)
- Special damages (reimbursement for out of pocket expenses)
- Aggravated damages
For fatal accidents, some family members will be entitled to:
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of care, guidance, and companionship
- Past and future loss of financial support
- Past and future loss of valuable services
- Loss of inheritance or other valuable gifts
Out-of-court settlement of Truck Accidents
In Nova Scotia, compensation for injuries and damage to property can be settled in the courts of law. However, these disputes can also be settled out of court which can save parties involved time and money. With the right legal representatives, the advantage of settling out of court is that parties involved would be less defensive and more open to arriving at a reasonable resolution which would be mutually beneficial. The settlement will typically be paid either in a lump-sum (one time) payment or a structured payment (installments).
The main challenges of settling out-of-court are that the victim of the accident may be asked to give up their right to pursue a legal claim in the courts of law once they agree to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. Because the compensation of an out-of-court settlement could be significantly less than if awarded in court litigation, the victim may not be satisfied in the end. Further, the terms of the settlement may be binding especially if the victim had agreed to not pursue the claim through a court trial.
Get Legal Help
Commercial truck accidents can be both severe and complicated. If you or a loved one were involved in a truck accident in Nova Scotia, it is important to seek legal guidance from an experienced truck accident lawyer before deciding whether to settle in or out of court.
Our accident lawyers at McKiggan Herbert have successfully represented victims of truck accidents to ensure they received the compensations they deserved. Contact us today by calling (902) 423-2050 or send us an email by filling out our contact form.