A judge will decide in the new year whether the Nova Scotia government has the right to recover a settlement awarded to a young woman who suffered a severe brain injury in a car crash.

The province has the taken the family of Joellan Huntley to court, arguing it has the right to recover the $1-million settlement awarded to her following a 1996 car crash.

Huntley has lived in a provincial rehab centre in the Annapolis Valley for 17 years, her daily care being paid for by the province.

Now the provincial government is going after what’s left of her settlement to cover that cost, something legislation passed in 2003 allows it to do.

Huntley’s parents worry that if the province takes the rest of the money they won’t have anything left for the extras that have been improving her quality of life.

The presiding judge said the fact the province has been aware of the settlement for 10 years before acting on it caused practical concerns for him right away.

The court heard that Joellan Huntley was there not only for herself, but for others like her who have been severely injured in car crashes.

Joellan’s parents say that’s all they want to do.

“Nothing more,” said her father, Byron Huntley.

“Don't want to have to go to the government for everything she needs but we're willing to share that.”

The Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia is watching the case closely, hoping it brings some clarity.

“Though the legislation seems to be quite clear, there also seems to be some exceptions and some areas that aren't clear,” said the association’s Leona Burkey.

She said the situation “speaks to the fact that we have a long way to go looking at brain injury care in the province.”

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster