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I was injured in a car accident in BC during work. Now what?

As there are many people who drive as a part of their employment, it is probably no surprise that car accidents are a leading cause of worker injury and fatality in British Columbia. However, did you know that if you are injured in a car accident while working you may have an option to choose, or elect, between an ICBC claim or a WorkSafe BC claim, depending on the specific circumstances of the people involved in the accident.

If you are involved in a car accident while you are working the process for claiming compensation may be different than if you are not working. This is the case even if you are a passenger or pedestrian in the accident. Normally, WorkSafeBC is the organization you would deal with for any injury suffered during work. The important factor to your ability in choosing to claim compensation through WorkSafe or ICBC is if the other people involved in the accident were all working at the time of the accident as well. If that is the case, then the only compensation available to you will be through WorkSafe, and you cannot go through ICBC.

If another driver involved in the accident was not working you may have the option of electing between WorkSafe or ICBC for your claim, and there are several factors to consider. Through WorkSafe, you will likely begin receiving compensation for lost wages within a few weeks from your accident. With ICBC, it could be a significant amount of time before a settlement is reached and you receive any compensation for lost wages. WorkSafe will pay medical expenses as a result of the accident e.g. physiotherapy, or chiropractic treatments; whereas, with ICBC you may not be reimbursed for these expenses until your claim is settled. WorkSafe does not compensate for non-pecuniary damages, also known as pain and suffering. Through an ICBC claim you are able pursue compensation for your pain and suffering, which is an important distinction.

After your accident and filing the initial claims information with WorkSafe they should provide you with a form in which you indicate if you are electing to proceed with compensation through WorkSafe or ICBC. If you have received WCB compensation, or elected to proceed with WorkSafe, you may still be able to re-elect to pursue a tort claim through ICBC. Once you have received compensation from WorkSafe, it is in WorkSafe's discretion to permit you to re-elect.

Depending on the type of work you do it is not always straightforward if WorkSafe will consider you to be a worker or not at the time of the accident. If you have been involved in an accident during work but the other driver was not a worker, or if you were not working but ICBC claims you were, you may benefit from consulting a lawyer to help navigate the ICBC claims process. Linley Welwood is an experienced firm in dealing with these ICBC claims, and welcomes you to contact them for a free consultation.

Sources: WorkSafeBC

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