Why Blue Collar instead of a WCB lawyer?

Dear Blue Collar,

Ten years ago I suffered a severe primary shock that threw me off a scaffold. Life has spiraled ever since. Chronic pain led to a painful divorce, the depletion of my life savings, and has pretty much wrecked my self-esteem. I don’t mean to complain, but looking back, I feel that WCB has ruined everything I had going for me. At this point, should I hire a WCB lawyer to file suit?

(A) To say I’m sorry for your pain sounds awfully glib and cliché. The fact is that workplace accidents too often cause physical and emotional suffering that’s devastating beyond words. It’s also true that one’s experience with the WCB hinges mightily on the particular case worker assigned to a claim, the experience/skill level of individual healthcare providers, plus a host of other crucial variables. The disparity in competence, dedication and experience among professionals across the WCB/healthcare spectrum ensures that every journey through the system is a unique one. This luck-of-the-draw scenario means that balls sometimes get dropped, claimants slip between cracks, and lives are too often destroyed in the process.

With respect to your question about bringing suit against the WCB, the answer is yes — and no. Indeed you may sue the WCB, but only in very specific situations. For instance, you may not sue the Board for actions related to the injury claim itself. But you are at liberty, however, to sue WCB if the system willfully or negligently caused you to suffer harm, be it physical or mental in nature. Or, supposing the Appeals Commission makes an egregious error in respect of administrative procedure, a court may be persuaded to scrutinize the case.

With respect to your question about filing suit against the WCB, the answer is yes — and no. Indeed you may sue the WCB, but only in very specific situations. For instance, you may not sue the Board for actions related to the injury claim itself. But you are at liberty, however, to sue WCB if the system willfully or negligently caused you to suffer harm, be it physical or mental in nature. Or, supposing the Appeals Commission makes an egregious error in respect of administrative procedure, a court may be persuaded to scrutinize the case.

However, before you travel down that uncertain road, you ought to know that judicial deference to tribunal determinations is on the rise because today’s legislative schemes require extensive administrative discretion — especially in the award of public benefits — to fulfill their lofty ambitions. Put differently, courts don’t normally overrule the expertise that administrative tribunals (i.e. the WCB Appeals Commission) bring to the table. This means that the judiciary is often quick to defer to tribunals without thinking overly hard about the substantive merits of a case or the quality of a tribunal’s ruling. Also note that the WCB has access to bottomless taxpayer funds with which to argue their case.

If you’re convinced the Board and/or the Appeals Commission made the wrong decision, first give thought to a Reconsideration Application and/or reaching out to the Office of the Ombudsman before pursuing a judicial review. Alternatively, Blue Collar specializes in claimant advocacy and appeal preparation and representation. Diplomatic negotiation with the Board is often far more successful, and much less costly/risky than filing a statement of claim against the government.

Wish you luck.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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About Me

Ben Barfett, Principal and Consultant, has spent his life in the construction sector, specifically heavy civil, enviro, commercial, and energy. Having held senior roles in business development, technical advisory, and regional management, he earned his stripes in the field and in head office. Conscious of the interplay between commercial, legal, and execution aspects of construction, his business insights are informed by expertise in WCB policy and enhanced with disability-specific training. 

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Blue Collar Consulting

Blue Collar Consulting is a WCB and disability management firm. The company specializes in rapid and affordable disability solutions that advance current claims, contain the cost of future claims, and get injured workers back on their feet. 

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