What Does a Workplace Injury Lawyer Do?
Sarj Gosal and the workplace injury lawyers at Gosal & Company law firm specialize in WCB (operating as WorkSafeBC) cases and appeals. Our workplace injury lawyers can guide you through the often lengthy, stressful, and frustrating dealings with WCB. Gosal & Company’s workplace injury lawyers are very experienced in assisting our clients with the WCB appeals process. Having cumulatively worked on over 4,500 cases since 1993, Mr. Gosal and his hard-working and very capable team of workplace injury lawyers will guide you step-by-step through the WCB appeal system. It is prudent to contact our office as soon as an injury occurs and you have filed a WorkSafeBC claim.
The workplace injury lawyers at Gosal & Company do not act for employers, nor do we practice in any other areas. The workplace injury lawyers at Gosal & Company do what they know best and restrict our practice to WCB claims and appeals. If you suffer a work injury, report the injury to WorkSafeBC and file a claim as soon as possible.
Gosal & Company provides full service assistance for WCB cases. Our workplace personal injury lawyers can assist you with Review Division appeals, Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (“WCAT”) appeals, claims management, and reopening of WCB claims. Our claims management includes guidance regarding what to do when an injury occurs (after you file a claim) and while you are undergoing medical treatment, and assistance with the appeals process when you are assessed for compensation for your work injury.
Our workplace injury lawyers can help you navigate the often harrowing BC WCB process, from the date an injury occurs through the course of your medical treatment, as well as the complexities of your dealings with WCB.
In our experience, WCB is a body that operates as an insurance company. After over 28 years of handling WCB cases, the workplace injury lawyers at Gosal & Company have found that WCB’s goal is to minimize the number, nature, and extent of claims accepted, as well as minimize the medical treatment and the duration and amount of compensation entitlement. WCB’s process of diminishing the value of your claim starts with the setting of your wage rate and proceeds systematically by ignoring the full nature, your pain and suffering, and the extent of your compensable physical and psychological conditions, and in assessing your long-term disability entitlement.
Many workers retain our workplace injury lawyers’ legal services when they are exhausted with dealing with the confusing maze of the WCB appeals system and/or demands made by WCB employees. Some workers retain us as soon as an injury occurs and a WCB claim has been file. Unfortunately, many workers contact our workplace injury lawyers after their avenues of appeal have been exhausted. It is advisable for you to promptly seek legal advice from our workplace injury lawyers as soon as possible after your work injury claim has been processed so that we can advise you on what to expect and what to watch out for as your WCB claim progresses.
WCB Claims and the Appeals Process
As you cannot sue your employer, your first step to pursuing workers’ compensation benefits is to file a WorkSafeBC claim for your workplace personal injury as soon as possible.
The following is a brief description of the WCB appeals process from Gosal & Company, your workplace injury lawyers.
The initial decision-making level: the Board (at WorkSafeBC)
Once you report the injury and file a claim, the Board makes the initial decision on a worker’s claim and aims to deny compensation entitlement from the outset. You should expect to communicate with various decision-makers from the Board at this stage. An Entitlement Officer or Case Manager will (often passively) gather information that the Board requires in order to adjudicate your claim or application. WorkSafeBC employees will decide which, if any, medical conditions will be accepted under your claim and what type of compensation, if any, you could be entitled to as a result. Calculating the actual amount of your permanent disability benefit is completed by Long Term Disability Services.
The Wage Rate Unit calculates the wage rate on your claim. The figure is crucial as your future compensation entitlement will be calculated based on your wage rate. Long Term Disability Services (formerly known as the Disability Awards department) determines and calculates the amount of your permanent disability award by reviewing medical evidence of your condition. Please note that you may be required to attend an assessment performed by WorkSafeBC’s third-party contractors. If you are found entitled to assistance in returning to work, your file may be referred to Vocational Rehabilitation Services and a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant may be assigned to create a return-to-work plan for you.
Our workplace injury lawyers want you to be aware of the following important list of terms found in many Board decision letters:
- Your claim has been accepted for…
- If you have multiple physical and/or psychological injuries due to your workplace injury, you can consider that they are not accepted under your claim unless they are formally and explicitly accepted by WCB in a formal decision letter.
- No other condition (temporary or permanent) is accepted
- If your conditions have not been accepted as permanent, you will not be considered for a disability award.
- Only “chronic pain” has been accepted.
- This means that the Board has quantified your disability as 2.5% out of 100% and that any and all objective signs of medical disability will be ignored.
- No limitations or restrictions are accepted.
- Your file will not be referred to Long Term Disability Services.
- Your condition has resolved.
- It is not anticipated that you will experience any permanent impairment.
- You have been deemed fit to return to work without restrictions.
- “There is no convincing evidence of…”
- You have a pre-existing condition/no aggravation of your pre-existing condition is accepted.
- Your file was reviewed by our Medical Advisor…I have accepted the Medical Advisor’s opinion…your claim is denied.
These are just some examples of terms in decisions that should be carefully reviewed and considered, as they indicate that the Board is trying to limit your compensation entitlement, as well as the scope of your claim.
You will have 90 days to request a review of (appeal) a Board decision to the Review Division. Our workplace injury lawyers can assist you with your request for review.
The first level of appeal: the Review Division
Once a request for review of a Board decision has been filed, you will have the opportunity to prepare and submit a written submission in support of your appeal. A Review Officer will be assigned to review the decision that you have appealed, your written submission, and relevant law and policy. Following that, the Review Officer may either: confirm the Board’s decision, make changes to the Board’s decision, or vary the Board’s decision. In some cases, the Review Officer may refer your file back to the Board for further investigation and a new decision.
As the Review Division is part of the Board, only an internal review is conducted, which results in the denial of many appeals at this stage. Most appeals will need to proceed to the next level of appeal – WCAT.
You will have 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal to WCAT. Our workplace injury lawyers can assist you with your WCAT appeal.
The second and final level of appeal: WCAT
WCAT is the final level of appeal and decisions are made by a one-person Panel or Vice Chair. The Panel may allow, partially allow, or deny your appeal. The Panel may also return your file back to the Board for further investigation and a new decision.
WCAT appeals are conducted in one of two ways: by written submissions or by oral hearing. If your appeal is proceeding by way of written submissions, the Panel will review your written argument and any evidence before issuing a decision. If your appeal is proceeding by way of an oral hearing, you will present your argument and evidence in the form of sworn testimony in front of the Panel. Please note that, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, all oral hearings are currently being held via videoconference.
WCAT is separate and independent from the Board. If you have supportive evidence, your appeal has a higher chance of success than at the Review Division. WCAT decisions are final and conclusive, and cannot be appealed.
The workplace injury lawyers at Gosal & Company strongly advise you not to attempt self-representation without supportive evidence at this final level of appeal. You need professional, experienced, and capable workplace injury lawyers.
Recent Changes to the Workers Compensation Act
Maximum Wage Rate: as of January 1, 2021, the maximum wage rate is increased to $100,000.00 (from $87,100.00).
Pension Termination Date/Retirement Date: the retirement date for an injured worker may be determined after a worker has reached age 63.
Loss of earnings: whereas, previously, WorkSafeBC primarily considered disability awards on a loss of function basis (unless the loss of earnings was “so exceptional”), these changes mean that injured workers are now entitled to the greater of the loss of earnings or loss of function award. To learn how these changes and the BC Workers Compensation Act affect you, contact Gosal & Company’s workplace injury lawyers <insert link to Contact form from website here>.
I am dealing with WorkSafeBC – Do I Need a Workplace Injury Lawyer?
At Gosal & Company, our workplace injury lawyers only concentrate on WCB cases and appeals. Since 1993, Mr. Gosal has represented over 4,500 injured workers. In serving as a workplace injury lawyer, Mr. Gosal has been qualified (and provided oral evidence) as an expert witness regarding workers’ compensation matters in the BC Supreme Court. In seeking a workers’ compensation attorney, experience counts and Gosal & Company provides you with very capable and experienced workplace injury lawyers.
For over 28 years, Mr. Gosal has developed a focused, results-driven niche practice as a workplace injury lawyer. In recent years (since the provincial government changed the ICBC system to largely remove the need for lawyers when obtaining compensation for motor vehicle accidents), law firms have added additional practice areas, including WCB/WorkSafeBC claims. Gosal & Company has specialized in WCB claims since 1998.
I am Dealing with WorkSafeBC – Do I Need a Workplace Injury Lawyer?
WCB is basically an insurance company (your employer’s insurance company). The goal of WCB is to (whenever and wherever possible) limit compensation. Our workplace injury lawyers can help navigate the complex and stressful WCB process.
Our workplace injury lawyers can advise you on which decision letters to appeal and why you need to appeal. The language in WCB decision letters is constructed to limit your entitlement under your WCB claim.
If you are unsure of what is going on regarding your WCB claim, or are confused about what WCB is doing with your case, you should be pro-active and contact our workplace injury lawyers. Sadly, we are often contacted by injured workers with WCB cases who have failed to appeal important decisions regarding their claim. We advise these workers that, unfortunately, they waited until it was too late to consult with our workplace injury lawyers. To protect your legal rights, be pro-active and call our workplace injury lawyers today.
Top Tips from Your Workplace Injury Lawyers:
- Read every decision letter from WCB. The standard appeal lines in all decisions from WCB state: “If you disagree with this decision, you can ask the Review Division to review it. You have 90 calendar days to file a request for review”. If your letter contains these lines, you likely need to appeal it! Pay attention to the contents of the decision letter (and keep in mind the phrases written above) and the appeal deadline.
- Never make assumptions about your WCB case based on verbal communication with WCB employees. All decisions should be set out in writing, in a decision letter, which you can then appeal if needed.
- Continue reporting any physical and psychological complaints to your attending physician and ensure that they are being documented in a Physician’s Progress Report (also known as an F-11) and are sent to WCB. If your complaints are not documented and there is no continuity in reporting, you will likely face significant difficulty raising these complaints later on in the course of your claim.
- If you are not sure about what to do or how to proceed with a Review Division or WCAT appeal, seek timely advice (as soon as you are injured from work and have filed a WCB claim) from our workers’ compensation attorneys!
- A WCB chronic pain award is a paltry 2.5%. You can calculate a chronic pain award as 2.5 % of what WorkSafeBC is paying you monthly.
What is the Cost for a Workplace Injury Lawyer?
The workplace injury lawyer team at Gosal & Company require an initial retainer deposit and work on an hourly basis at a modest hourly rate (significantly lower than most law firms of equivalent years of call). If the workplace injury lawyers at Gosal & Company agree to take your case, fees may be discussed after a complete and through review of your WorkSafeBC claim disclosure file.
In BC, most (if not all) workplace injury lawyers require a retainer and charge on an hourly basis as you cannot sue your employer. Based on workplace injury lawyer Sarj Gosal’s 28-plus years of experience, it is not possible to offer our legal services on a contingency fee basis. WorkSafeBC policy does not allow the forwarding of WCB benefits to a lawyer. Furthermore, the vast majority of Gosal & Company workplace injury lawyer clients receive monthly benefits, which are simply not amenable to a contingent fee arrangement.
How Can I Hire a Workplace Injury Lawyer
The workplace injury lawyers at Gosal & Company offer a free initial consultation, usually with our most experienced workplace injury lawyer, Sarj Gosal (over 28 years of experience).
During the free initial consultation (currently being conducted via telephone due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic), our workplace injury lawyers will usually obtain relevant details regarding your WCB case, including: your date of injury; details of how you were injured at work; what conditions were accepted or denied; what medical treatments you are undergoing; the date that your wage loss benefits were terminated (if applicable); details regarding the nature and amount of any permanent disability benefits (either a loss of function or loss of earnings award) related to your WCB case; reports of pain and suffering. We will advise you on how to deal with WCB after your work injury.
Gosal & Company workplace injury lawyers will also ask questions regarding the relevant dates of WCB decision letters, and whether you filed timely appeals to the Review Division or to WCAT. Following the initial free consultation, Gosal & Company’s workplace injury lawyers will determine whether you have a WCB case that we are able to assist with. Gosal & Company’s workplace injury lawyers will send you an email detailing the terms of our Retainer Agreement, along with a request for further information and documents from you regarding your WCB case. After careful review of our Retainer Agreement, you will then be in a position to hire Gosal & Company’s very experienced and capable workplace injury lawyers.
To schedule a free consultation with our workplace injury lawyers, it is as easy as picking up the phone and calling our office at (604) 591-8187. In the alternative, you can fill out our contact form or you can send a private and confidential email to our workplace injury lawyers: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact our workplace injury lawyers today:
Telephone: (604) 591-8187
Fax: (604) 591-8126