Hurt in a Car Accident at Work? Should I Claim via ICBC or WCB?

If you are involved in an auto accident while working, you want to get the best compensation for your medical care and income loss. As a resident of British Columbia, you have a couple of choices for compensation, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) and WorkSafeBC, also known as the Workers Compensation Board (WCB). Each offers risks and rewards, as well as stipulations regarding filing claims. Find out which provides the greatest benefits depending on your situation so you can get the most money following an auto accident while on the dole.

Dealing with Workers Compensation Board

The Workers Compensation Board of BC, which operates as WorkSafeBC, is a provincial agency that supports injured workers. When you are injured while on the job in an auto accident, you need to make a claim with WCB to see if you are eligible to receive WCB benefits.  This is true whether or not you are going to pursue your claim with ICBC or not.  There are certain instances where a WCB claim is the only path to receiving benefits:

  • If you are working at the time of the accident and YOU ARE AT FAULT for the accident. In this situation, where you are at fault, you would not be successful in a claim against the other driver to receive compensation for your injuries, so receiving WCB benefits for your medical care and your wage loss is your only option.
  • If you AND the other driver involved are both working at the time of the accident. This applies in single vehicle accidents, even if you are a passenger in a work vehicle, and the driver of your vehicle is at fault.  A worker cannot sue another worker due to s.10 of the Worker’s Compensation Act.  They can only claim WCB benefits.  It also applies in multi-vehicle accidents where the at-fault driver is a worker in the course of their employment, and you are a worker in the course of your employment at the time of the collision.

There is a two part test as to whether you are eligible for WCB benefits, and a preliminary determination is made by an entitlement officer at WCB.  This is why it is important that you make a WCB claim to find out what your status is.  It is not as simple as it sounds.  The first question is whether you are a worker. That is a defined term, and not just what you would normally think being a worker is.  The second part of the test is whether you were in the course of your employment at the time of the collision.  There are a number of policies that must be considered as to whether you are in the course of your employment at the time.  Even if you are not getting paid, and there is a work purpose to your trip, you might be covered.  If you have multiple locations of work, you might be covered.  It is actually quite complicated.  Even if a WCB entitlement officer makes the determination, that is not the end of it.  The only body that can make a binding determination is the Worker’s Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) and this involves a request for a s.257 determination, presenting evidence and submissions to the tribunal, and awaiting their determination.

If WCB decides you are not a worker, or that you are not in the course of your employment, you need a letter from WCB to show to ICBC so that ICBC can start paying benefits to you.  ICBC will refuse to pay benefits to you if WCB doesn’t make the determination.   That is why it is important that you make that WCB claim. You need that decision letter.

When WCB makes a decision that you are a worker and that you were in the course of your employment at the time of the collision, they will contact ICBC to find out what the status of the other driver is.  If the other driver is working, that is the end of it.  You have no option to pursue the claim with ICBC.  ICBC will take care of the vehicle and property damage, and that will be it.

However, if WCB decides that you are a worker in the course of your employment, and the other driver was just on a personal trip that was not related to work, then you have a choice.  You can choose (a) to receive your benefits from WCB, and WCB will pay for your medical treatment and wage loss until WCB decides that you no longer need it, and it is in WCB’s discretion whether they hire a lawyer to sue the other driver for you to recover pain and suffering damages.  They don’t have to, and they don’t always do this for you.  It is their choice.  The benefit of choosing the WCB route is that you get some benefits for medical treatment and wage loss as you recover that are not available for you if you choose the second ICBC route.

What to Expect with ICBC Claim Process

If you (b) choose to sue the other driver through ICBC, you control your claim, you get to choose the lawyer, and you can recover damages for pain and suffering for your injuries.  After April 1, 2019, these damages may be capped at $5,500, but that is another topic altogether.  But ICBC doesn’t have to assist you with any medical treatment or wage loss at all.  The reason for this is that ICBC benefits are secondary benefits, and your primary benefits were WCB benefits.  You chose to pursue the claim through ICBC, and in doing so, gave up your right to receive the primary WCB benefits.  So, you need to pay the full private rate for physiotherapy, massage therapy, your medication, chiropractic, etc.  If you have short term disability coverage a generous sick time policy at work, a lot of banked sick hours, and extended health benefits from a different insurer, you might be okay with that.

Another viable option for individuals who need compensation following an accident is the ICBC.

When you opt for an ICBC claim you are in greater control of the outcome since you are working with a private litigator. Also, if during negotiations with ICBC to settle your claim, ICBC is paying less than what you would have received under a WCB claim, and you get the written consent of WCB, you may be able to collect what WCB would have paid.

Choosing between WCB and ICBC Claims is a difficult and complicated decision.  Before you speak to ICBC or WCB, you need to evaluate other insurance that you are eligible for, and you need to look at your own financial situation.  Most imnportantly, you need to speak with an experienced lawyer that can tell you your options. If you would like to learn more about the differences between WCB and ICBC claims, or you need assistance with filing with the ICBC, we want to help. Contact Becker, Lavin & Wessler of British Columbia today to speak with a lawyer.

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