What Is the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act?

The Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA) recently added an amendment to the act that defines safety regulations regarding manufacturing and importing motor vehicles. That includes specific motor vehicle equipment such as tires and child and booster seats. The focus of the law is to ensure motor vehicles in Canada, whether manufactured here or elsewhere in the world, adhere to basic safety standards that can help reduce the risk of injury, death, and damage.

The 2023 amendment enables Transport Canada to impose administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) for violations of sections of the MVSA. The goal is to decrease incentives for manufacturers and importers to try to find workarounds to the MVSA and increase risk for Canadian drivers.

What Is Tort Law in Nova Scotia?

Tort law is an enormous part of the legal field. The word “tort” comes from the Latin word “tortum,” meaning injustice. Tort law involves personal injury law, which is meant to help people who have suffered bodily harm or property damage done by the actions of other people, usually due to negligence or deliberate wrongdoing. In other words, tort law is meant to right wrongs people have suffered, particularly when it could have been prevented.

Tort law intersects with the MVSA when someone is harmed because of a motor vehicle that didn’t meet the standards of the MVSA. That could happen when someone is driving that vehicle, is a passenger in it, or is in another vehicle that ends up in an accident because of the vehicle with the MVSA violation.

For example, someone drives a car which has a safety defect. The driver doesn’t know about it. The manufacturer or importer knows, but either they didn’t issue a recall as soon as they were aware of the problem, or they issued a recall but didn’t entirely fix the problem. The safety defect causes an accident, and the driver is injured.

The manufacturer or importer should be held responsible for the accident. Tort law, or personal injury law, exists to help with that. Someone injured in this type of situation is advised to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer who understands the process of applying tort law to MVSA violations.

What Types of Safety Defects Can Be Found in Motor Vehicles?

Motor vehicles today are complicated pieces of machinery, reliant on various subsystems to operate safely. A safety defect can appear in nearly any part of the vehicle. The following is not an inclusive list but covers some of the more common defects.

  • Fuel leaking. That can lead to a vehicle fire.
  • Brake issues. When brakes fail, a driver may be unable to slow or stop the vehicle, even with emergency brakes.
  • Steering problems. These can cause part or complete loss of control of the vehicle. There are many causes for these types of problems, including fluid leaks and malfunctioning autopilot or self-driving systems.
  • Transmission issues. These can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle and can include situations where the transmission moves between park and other gears against the driver’s will.
  • Airbags that don’t work when they should or deploy when they shouldn’t.
  • Engine problems range from vehicles that won’t start to engines that stall or shut down unexpectedly, including while the driver is on a highway.
  • Seats that fail while in use. A driver whose seat suddenly pitches backward unexpectedly could lose control of the vehicle.

What if the Manufacturer or Importer Says the Driver Was at Fault for the Accident?

Nova Scotia operates under the law of contributory negligence. With that type of negligence, the injured party (the plaintiff) can only receive financial compensation for their injuries in proportion to the amount of fault they contributed to the accident. For example, if a driver was speeding and their brakes failed, it’s possible that the driver might be found 20% at fault for the accident, even with a safety defect. If they’re awarded $10,000, they’d receive only $8,000 instead.

Manufacturers and importers can try to claim that the driver had a role in the accident that caused their injuries. Their goal is to reduce the amount of damages they have to pay out as much as possible. That’s another reason it’s vital to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer who understands the MVSA and the ways vehicles can cause safety issues.

What Should I Do if I’m Injured in What May Be an MVSA Violation in Nova Scotia?

First, have yourself checked out by a medical professional, even if you don’t think your injury is bad. There are many injuries that don’t have symptoms that appear immediately. Left untreated, they can worsen and become severe.

Then call the PI attorneys at NOVA Injury Law at 902-706-5205 to schedule a free case review. Tort law that applies to the MVSA is complicated and can require extensive investigation and research. Our team of personal injury lawyers can help you understand what’s at stake and how to provide evidence that could prove the MVSA was violated.

It’s possible that once you begin pursuing damages, lawyers or insurance representatives for the manufacturers or importers may try to contact you to discourage you from filing claims, or they could offer a settlement that seems fair at the moment but is actually lower than you might earn by continuing with the case. Don’t respond to their communications; instead, forward them to your lawyer.