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Searching for Canadian Legal Cases and Experts – Using CanLII

As a nurse, have you been curious about medical malpractice cases or cared for a patient who they, or their family, was involved in legal proceedings? Have you been curious about medical malpractice cases seen in the news? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a public website called CanLII – the Canadian Legal Information Institute might quench your thirst. Thanks to an online software program called Lexum, organizing and operating online legal information has helped make the law available at your fingertips. CanLII is also a founding member of the Free Access to Law Movement.

Similar to our nursing licenses, the law is organized by provincial and territorial jurisdictions. However, within each jurisdiction, there are levels of different courts where medical-legal cases may sit, be ruled, or be appealed. On a very broad level, the Supreme Court of Canada is the ‘top’, and underneath, respectively, are the Provinces and Territories Courts of Appeal, Superior Courts, and Courts (lower level).

One example of a case that was seen right through at the Supreme Court of Canada was Carter vs. Canada. This landmark case is why nursing professionals are now seeing and possibly practicing medical assistance in dying depending on their jurisdictions. Can you search this case on the CanLII website (hint: type “Carter” in the case name)?

In medical malpractice cases, lawyers need to prove that healthcare providers have not met the expected standard of care resulting in harm to a patient. Medical malpractice lawyers will seek the opinions of a Legal Nurse Consultant to determine if nursing standards of care have been met. Another way to use CanLII is to search for experts. Can you find a case with one of our Board Members that provided an expert Emergency care opinion? Hint, it happened in Manitoba!

The Legal Nurse Consultant can provide expert (verbal and/or written) opinions based on the nursing research, practice standards, and workplace policies at the time the event occurred. Search our member directory to find Canadian Legal Nurse Consultants.