What Does a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Do?
Sarj Gosal and the workers’ compensation attorneys at Gosal & Company law firm specialize in workers’ compensation law/WCB (operating as WorkSafeBC) cases and appeals. Our workers’ compensation attorneys can guide you through the often lengthy, stressful, and frustrating dealings with WCB. Gosal & Company’s workers’ compensation attorneys 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 workers’ compensation attorneys will guide you step-by-step through the complexities of the workers’ compensation law/WCB appeal system.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Gosal & Company do not act for employers, nor do we practice in any other areas (other than workers’ compensation law). The workers’ compensation attorneys at Gosal & Company do what they know best and restrict our practice to WCB claims and appeals.
Gosal & Company provides full service legal services/assistance for WCB cases. Our workers’ compensation attorneys can assist you with matters regarding lost wages, Review Division appeals, Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (“WCAT”) appeals, claims management, and reopening of WCB claims.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you navigate the often harrowing BC WCB process.
In our experience, WCB is a body that operates as an insurance company, which often denies your claim and minimizes lost wages. After over 28 years of handling WCB cases, the workers’ compensation attorneys 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 duration and amount of compensation entitlement (including lost wages and coverage of medical bills). WCB’s process of diminishing the value of your claim starts with the setting of your wage rate (for lost wages) and proceeds systematically by ignoring the full nature and extent of your compensable physical and psychological conditions, and in assessing your long-term disability entitlement. Our workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help you.
Many workers retain our workers’ compensation attorneys when they are exhausted with dealing with the confusing maze of the WCB appeals system and/or demands made by WCB employees. Unfortunately, many workers contact our workers’ compensation attorneys after their avenues of appeal have been exhausted. It is advisable for you to promptly seek legal advice from our workers’ compensation attorneys as soon as possible after your claim has been processed (or if WorkSafeBC denies your claim) so that we can advise you on what to expect and what to watch out for as your WCB claim progresses. Our workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help you by providing expert legal services to help you understand workers’ compensation law.
WCB Claims and the Appeals Process
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 law firm, your workers’ compensation attorneys.
The initial decision-making level: the Board (at WorkSafeBC)
The Board makes the initial decision on a worker’s claim and aims to deny compensation entitlement (and denies your claim) 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, what medical bills will be paid, 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 (including lost wages) 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. At each step in the process, our workers’ compensation lawyers will provide the legal services and knowledge of workers’ compensation law to help if WCB denies your claim or places obstacles to lost wages or coverage of medical bills.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys 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 WorkSafeBC claim.
You will have 90 days to request a review of (appeal) a Board decision to the Review Division. Our workers’ compensation attorneys 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 workers’ compensation attorneys 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 workers’ compensation attorneys 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 workers’ compensation attorneys/workers’ compensation lawyers.
Do I Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney/Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
At Gosal & Company, our workers’ compensation attorneys only concentrate on WCB cases and appeals. Since 1993, Mr. Gosal has represented over 4,500 injured workers with their workplace personal injury claims. In serving as a successful workers’ compensation attorney, 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 workers’ compensation attorneys.
For over 28 years, Mr. Gosal has developed a focused, results-driven niche practice as a workers’ compensation attorney. In recent years (since the provincial government changed the ICBC system to largely remove the need for lawyers when obtaining compensation), law firms have added practice areas including WCB/WorkSafeBC claims. Gosal & Company has specialized in WCB claims since 1998.
Do I need to Hire Workers’ Compensation Attorneys?
WCB is basically an insurance company (your employer’s insurance company). The goal of WCB is to (whenever and wherever possible) limit compensation (i.e. denies your claim, denies lost wages, denies coverage of medical bills). Our workers’ compensation attorneys can help navigate the complex and stressful WCB process.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys/workers’ compensation 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 workers’ compensation attorneys. 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 workers’ compensation attorneys. To protect your legal rights, be pro-active and call our workers’ compensation attorneys today.
Top Tips from Your Workers’ Compensation Attorneys/Workers’ Compensation 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 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.
How Can I Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney from Gosal & Company?
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Gosal & Company offer a free initial consultation, usually with our most experienced worker’s compensation attorney, 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 workers’ compensation attorneys will usually obtain relevant details regarding your WCB case, including: your date of injury; what conditions were accepted or denied; the date that your wage loss benefits were terminated (if applicable); and 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.
Gosal & Company workers’ compensation attorneys 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 workers’ compensation attorneys will determine whether you have a WCB case that we are able to assist with. Gosal & Company’s workers’ compensation attorneys 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 workers’ compensation attorneys.
To schedule a free consultation with our workers’ compensation attorneys, it is as easy as picking up the phone and calling our office at (604) 591-8187. In the alternative, you can send a private and confidential message using our contact form or you can send an email to our workers’ compensation attorneys: email@example.com.
Contact our workers’ compensation attorneys today:
Telephone: (604) 591-8187
Fax: (604) 591-8126