Whiplash Injuries and Nova Scotia’s “Minor Injury” Compensation Cap

by John McKiggan

Since 2003 Nova Scotia has had some form of a cap on the amount of compensation innocent accident victims are entitled to receive for their non-pecunaiary damages (what most people refer to as “pain and suffering”). For more information you can read:

Nova Scotia’s Cap on Compensation for ‘Minor Injuries’ in Car Crashes (2003 – 2010)

Although the cap has been in place now for eight years there are few reported decisions where the courts have interpreted what the definitions in the legislation actually mean. As a result, there is still debate between lawyers and insurance adjusters and defence lawyers about what injuries are “capped”.

Case in point. Today I received an email from Tom Stanley, a physiotherapist who has treated, and helped, a great many of my clients over the years. He was reading some of the information on my website that we provide to help educate the public about personal injury claims. He was reading our page about the latest changes to the minor injury compensation cap: Nova Scotia’s New “Minor Injury” Cap (2010 – 2011)

I had indicated that some of the signs of a WAD 3 injury included tingling or numbness. Tom pointed out that, strictly speaking, tingling and numbness is actually a symptom, rather than a sign.

I have included Tom’s helpful explantion of the difference between signs and symptoms below:

What is the difference between a sign and a symptom?

Essentially, a symptom is what the patient tells you that he or she is feeling. For example, back pain is symptom that a patient reports. Nobody can independently verify the presence of this pain, thus we look at this as a reported symptom.

A sign is an actual physical manifestation of an illness. For example, a high temperature, a lost reflex, an irregular heart rate, are all physical signs of potential illness. An examiner can assess and find these signs of illness.

Neurological symptoms include:

Reported feelings of numbness Reported feelings of pins and needles (paraesthesia)
Reports of pain radiation, associated with paraesthesia
Neurological signs include:

Lost or reduced reflexes
Lost or reduced sensation feeling in a region (sensory impairment)
Lost or reduced movement (motor impairment)

I have corrected the information on our website. Thanks Tom!

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