Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Upholds Fatal Injuries Act Limitation Period

On April 2, 2019, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal released the decision of Bond v. Willson, 2019 NSCA 24, which upholds the result Wagners obtained in an earlier decision released in late 2018 by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

The Plaintiff in this case brought an action on behalf of his mother, who died as a result of an alleged pharmacy error. Counsel for the pharmacists and pharmacy argued that a limitation period for malpractice found in the Pharmacy Act should prevent the Plaintiff from bringing his claim. The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia found that the Pharmacy Act limitation period was irrelevant to an action brought on behalf of a deceased family member, which the Defendants appealed.

The Court of Appeal upheld this result, finding that family members of a deceased have a full year from the date of death to bring an action on behalf of a loved one – so long as the deceased had a valid claim at the time of their death.

This decision clarifies the state of the law surrounding fatal injuries. It affirms the one-year limitation period provided for in the Fatal Injuries Act becomes available to claimants where a deceased family member could have brought a legal action at the time of their death.

While the limitation period provided by the Nova Scotia Fatal Injuries Act is shorter than similar provisions in most of Canada, this decision from the Court of Appeal provides certainty for grieving families. It ensures that the already-short limitation period for fatal injuries is not further eroded by other limitation periods.

As Wagners continues to advocate for change to allow grieving families more time to commence a legal action when a family member dies as the result of negligence, this decision ensures that the full limitation period provided in the Fatal Injuries Act will be available when a loved one dies with a legal right of action.

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