1) Report your injury to your employer, and your workers’ compensation board (“the Board”)

When you’re injured at work, report the injury to your employer as soon as you can. The employer has the responsibility of providing you with first aid if necessary. You should also report your injury to your employer because it’s the employer’s duty to keep you and other workers safe – so letting them know something happened can help them stop any further injuries from happening.

Contact the Board yourself if you’re hurt at work. Workers’ compensation boards have extensive information on their websites about how to do this. You do not need your employer’s permission to file a claim with the Board. In fact, it’s against the law for the employer to prevent you from doing so.

2) Make your claim as soon as possible

Workers sometimes wait a long time before filing a claim. If you wait too long to file a claim, you may not be able to file a claim at all. At WorkSafeBC, for example, workers generally have a year to make a claim, and, if they don’t, there’s a good chance their claim won’t be accepted.

Even if you make your claim within the time limits, filing later can make winning your claim a lot harder. For example, part of what the Board will look for when considering whether to accept your claim is whether the injury was related to your employment. The longer you wait, the harder it might be for the Board to make this connection. Witnesses may no longer remember something that happened at work, or you can run into other medical issues that make it harder to prove that your injury happened at work.

The longer you wait before making a claim, the longer it will take for you to receive the benefits that you’re entitled to. Often you’re not going to be able to get wage loss immediately, and getting referrals or assessments – especially if they involve medical specialists – can take time, too.

3) Take the time to provide accurate details about your injury

It’s important to provide accurate details of your workplace accident when you make your claim. You’ll need your employer’s basic information handy, as well as your own personal information. When reporting your injury, remember to talk about the “5 Ws” – who, what, when, where, why (and how). If you’re calling your claim into the Board, make notes about all of these details before you call so you don’t miss anything.

For more complicated claims, like bullying and harassment, it’s especially important to include as many details as you can of what caused your work injury. Include the names of witnesses who saw what you’re talking about. Avoid generalizations like “I was bullied and harassed by Gary on 4 December” and instead say exactly what happened with as much detail as you can – and what impact it had on you. For example:

On 5 December 2021 around noon, Gary Smith, my co-worker, came up to me in the kitchen at work and said, “it’s no wonder you’re so fat. Look at what you’re eating!” Sam Gibbons, Stacy Hart, and Frank DeLauriers were in the kitchen and saw him say that, too. When I told Gary he shouldn’t say stuff like that to me, he walked up a few inches from my face, and shook his fist, and said, “I can say whatever I want.” He said this really loud. He was practically shouting. I left the kitchen right away and went to my desk. I felt threatened and intimidated and embarrassed. I told my boss, Steve Stuart, about it in Steve’s office later that afternoon around 3. I told Steve exactly what had happened. Steve said he’d “look into it” but never got back to me.

On 9 December 2021, around 3 pm, Gary came up to me at my desk and said…

Be accurate. It’s against the law to deliberately lie to Board staff or an investigator. If you’re not sure about a particular detail, don’t guess. It’s ok to say, for example, that you’re not sure exactly what day something happened.

Anything that you say that can be shown to be inaccurate or untrue will hurt your credibility – and make it less likely that the Board will believe everything you say.

Remember: any forms you complete will be put on file, and Board staff take very careful notes of conversations with you. Your employer can access this information.

4) Ask when the Board will make decisions– and follow up

Depending on the type of claim you’re making, a decision on whether your claim will be accepted or whether you will get a particular benefit can take some time. It’s important to stay on the ball, ask when the Board expects to get back to you, and follow up yourself if you don’t hear back. You should never rely on the Board to follow up with you and move things forward.

5) Always read decisions carefully and know your time limit for an appeal

When the Board makes a decision about your claim, it’s usually in writing. Read the decision carefully. Written decisions should include reasons. Do you agree with the facts? They also include what policies the Board followed to come to their decision. All of these policies are available online. Sometimes, the right policies or rules aren’t followed – or they’re followed incorrectly.

If the decision didn’t go your way, you can always appeal. Make sure you know what the deadline is to appeal, and don’t miss the deadline. At WorkSafeBC, it’s generally 90 days to request a review to the Review Division, for example – and submit your paperwork by that date.

If you don’t understand something, you can contact the decision-maker and ask questions. But remember: the Board isn’t always right! You’re entitled to an appeal, and, if you do, you’ll get the opportunity to argue your case to a different decision-maker and even include new evidence, such as medical reports or witness statements, if you like.

When you get a decision in writing from the Board it’s also a good time to get a lawyer’s opinion. The facts and policies relied on by the Board are usually laid out at this point, and a lawyer can give you a good sense of whether you could win an appeal.

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article, and this website generally, is not intended as legal advice and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.  To provide legal advice on your problem, a lawyer must first understand your specific situation.

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