Sue WCB?

Worker wants to sue WCB after perceived mishandling of claim causes his life to spiral.

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?

 

Answer

It’s a cold fact that workplace accidents too often cause physical and emotional suffering that’s devastating beyond words. It’s also true that your experience with the WCB will depend heavily on the particular case worker assigned to your claim, the experience/skill level of individual healthcare providers, plus a host of other variables.

Regarding 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. Or, supposing the Appeals Commission makes a serious error concerning administrative procedure, a court may be persuaded hear the case.

Should I sue?

With respect to your question about the feasibility of suing WCB, the answer is also yes — and also 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 set foot down that uncertain road, remember 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 WCB has access to inexhaustible taxpayer funds with which to defend their decisions.

We’re here to help.

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.

From its office in Edmonton, and soon-to-be new branch in Calgary, Blue Collar serves all four corners of Alberta. Call us today for more information.

Call (780)-340-5727 to speak with our 541 Eagleson Wynd, Edmonton T6M 0Y4 team for free.
Ben Barfett

Ben Barfett

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.

Ben Barfett

Ben Barfett

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.

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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