Workplace injuries are quite common. For example, OHS reports that over 40,000 workers get injured annually due to fall accidents.
Workplace injuries are covered by the Workers Compensation Board (WCB). WCB claim is a no-fault system. That is, you are eligible to receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident. WCB promises to pay certain expenses in return for holding the employer harmless in most cases.
Often, workers can get through the WCB claim process without a hitch. At times, they’ll require help from a lawyer to handle workplace Injuries. Here’s everything you need to know what should you do if you get injured at work.
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Filing Your WCB Claim
The claims process begins at work. You must tell your employer that you’ve been injured and the details of your injury as soon as you get injured. Your employer is required to report the injury to WCB within 72 hours if you need any treatment beyond first aid or if you missed time off work beyond the day of the accident.
If you get treated beyond first aid you must then tell your doctor that you were injured at work. They must report the injury to WCB within 48 hours. WCB can help your doctor expedite testing and consultations.
Those are two points of contact where WCB will know that a claim exists, but you yourself have the right to make the report. You can report at wcb.ab.ca, or you can use the WCB mobile app.
There will be times when you will be able to do modified work immediately until your injury heals, and if so your employer should offer the modification. Some, however, will be too severely injured to work until they’ve had some time to heal.
When reporting your injury to any party, be it the WCB, your doctor, or your employer, we recommend using a “just the facts” approach. Keep everything simple, straightforward, and unembellished. This reduces issues in the narrative which may be disputed later.
If you must take time off work to heal from a work-related injury then WCB should cover wage replacement for the entire time you are off work. You will receive 90% of your net earnings. Permanent disability coverage is available for those whose injuries have rendered them unable to work any occupation.
WCB also pays for any medical treatments you might need. This includes tests, doctor visits, ER visits, physical therapy, chiropractors, hospital stays, prescriptions, and medical equipment.
WCB offers assistance while you’re recovering from serious injuries too. It will pay for housekeeping and lawn work.
If you need long-term personal care, home and car modifications, or travel and accommodations for treatment, then WCB covers all of these expenses as well.
Finally, WCB is supposed to facilitate “return to work” planning with your employer, though this doesn’t always pan out. Sometimes employers make it deliberately difficult to go back to work and then use this excuse to end your benefits. Speak to a lawyer if this happens to you.
What to Do If Your WCB Claim is Rejected
You have a bit of recourse. You can request a fairness review if you feel like your claim was denied or your benefits were stopped unfairly or in violation of procedure.
Fairness reviews don’t always help. If you’ve been wrongfully denied worker’s compensation then you may well want to speak to a lawyer before you ask for the review.
What If My Employer Doesn’t have Workers Compensation Insurance?
There are two classes of employers who won’t have worker’s compensation insurance.
Some employers are legally exempt from having to contribute to the WCB. Individuals who work for those employers are encouraged to purchase their own WCB coverage because they won’t necessarily have the right to sue their employers.
Employers who have a legal obligation to contribute to the WCB but fail to do so have lost the protection of the “historic bargain” that shields them from liability and lawsuits. If you are injured on the job you can sue these employers just as you’d sue any other negligent party.
When is It Time to Get Help from a Workers Compensation Lawyer?
If you disagree with the WCB decision or are struggling to get long-term disability payments approved you might wish to speak to a lawyer to get help with your appeal.
You might also need a lawyer if a third party is involved in the claim. WCB must approve your request to sue the third party for damages and must approve any lawyer you choose.
What if I’m Not Happy with How My Claim is Resolved?
There are several steps that will need to be taken.
Step one is to contact the person who made the decision. You have the right to receive an accounting of why a decision was made a certain way. Your case manager may also tell you if there is additional information you can provide that would help them alter the decision. If so, you can simply provide the evidence and information, and this could be enough to change WCB’s mind.
If that doesn’t work you can request a review with an online form. This brings a supervisor into the process. WCB claims it uses a “collaborative process” to resolve disputes.
If that doesn’t work, you can contact DRDRB, the Dispute Resolution and Decision Review Body. This puts a review specialist on your case.
If you are not satisfied with the DRDRB decision then you can make an appeal through the Appeals Commission.
You may bring in a lawyer at any part during the review process. We recommend bringing a lawyer in before requesting a review at the very earliest so that we can ensure that we give you your best chance at a successful review.
Need Help with a WCB Claim?
Our lawyers have over 20 years of experience with WCB claims, long-term disability claims, and personal injury claims. We have the expertise you need to bring a workplace injury matter to its most successful possible conclusion.
We take your claim very seriously. We’re responsive, empathetic, and ready to fight for your rights. We’re known for being some of Alberta’s toughest negotiators and savviest litigators.
Call (403) 269-7777 to schedule a case evaluation today.