A Blue Collar follower on LinkedIn wonders whether to take action against the Board. Our advice is to think long and hard before starting down that arduous road.
First off, overturning a claim decision begins with your case worker and his/her direct supervisor. Failing an amicable resolution at this level, the Request for Review (aka GO40) is escalated to the Decision Review and Dispute Resolution Board. At this point, if things don’t go your way, recourse may be sought with the Appeals Commission, a independent administrative tribunal that is separate and distinct from the WCB.
Now, where the Appeals Commission upholds WCB’s decision, you retain the option to pursue a judicial review. That said, the Court of Queen’s Bench has proven to be highly averse to overturning the AC’s rulings. The Court of Queen’s Bench will not contemplate questions of fact that pertain to your claim, but rather, to be reviewable, the case must turn on a pure question of law i.e., matters of jurisdiction or errors in procedure. Simply put, it’s exceedingly difficult to persuade a court system that’s backlogged by COVID to scrutinize an AC ruling. Exceptionally difficult actually. As such, every effort should be made to resolve disputes on the WCB levels of appeal. This means you should hire an experienced WCB specialist, someone who knows their way around WCB, not a courthouse.
Then there’s the delicate matter of cost. Bear in mind that hourly rates charged by lawyers typically range from $250 to $450. Then tack on the file opening fees, fee for faxes, photocopying, printing, and courier expenses in addition to court filing and service fees, clinical records, and expert report fees. And thus, you’re well advised to account for the full cost burden of engaging a lawyer prior to appealing a decision that may or may not go your way.
The final word
In summary, consider a WCB specialist as your first line of defense, and a WCB lawyer only as a last ditch. It’s also suggested that you contact the Office of the Ombudsman before pursuing a judicial review. And lastly, keep in mind that Blue Collar Consulting specializes in advocacy and appeal preparation and representation. Time and again, we find that strategic negotiation with the Board delivers far superior outcomes versus rushing to file a statement of claim against a quasi-governmental agency.