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Injured While Driving for Work? When to Use ICBC vs WorkSafeBC for Your Claim

ICBC lawyers in British Columbia offer guidance when injured on the job or by a commercial vehicle

If you’ve been injured in a car accident while working or by someone who was on the job, our lawyers can offer legal guidance about filing your claim with WorkSafeBC or ICBC to protect your personal interests.

If you sustain personal injury in a vehicle accident while you are working, or if you are injured by a driver who was working at the time of the accident (for example, a delivery van on the job, or an employee driving to visit customers), this may have important implications with respect to the type of claim that you can bring. This in turn impacts the type of compensation you may be entitled to. Our personal injury lawyers prepared this article to help you understand the difference between a WorkSafeBC claim (also referred to at times as a “WCB claim”) and an ICBC claim, and to assist you in determining whether you need an ICBC lawyer.

Why does it matter if I claim through WorkSafeBC or ICBC?

It is crucial to determine whether you are able to pursue a personal injury claim through ICBC as opposed to being limited to a WorkSafeBC claim. The distinction is important because WorkSafeBC does not compensate injury victims to the same extent as ICBC. WorkSafeBC benefit claims are generally limited to wage loss and medical expenses, whereas an ICBC claim includes compensation for pain and suffering (also known as “non-pecuniary damages”) in addition to other damages that may be available in a WCB claim. Put another way, a car accident victim will typically receive more compensation with an ICBC claim compared to a WCB claim.

How do I know whether to claim through WorkSafeBC or ICBC?

The answer is complicated and depends on a number of factors, including whether you and/or the other driver are deemed to be a “worker” at the time of the accident, the nature and extent of your injuries, and who was at fault for the accident. Briefly:

  • If you were working when the accident occurred but the at-fault driver was not, you have the option of filing with either WCB or ICBC (this choice is called an “election”). We strongly recommend seeking immediate legal advice from our personal injury lawyers before deciding to either accept WorkSafeBC benefits or trying to start an ICBC claim.

  • If you and the other driver were both working at the time of the accident, then generally speaking, you must claim under WorkSafeBC. This is because of the statutory bar in s. 10 of the Workers Compensation Act which states that a “worker” cannot sue another “worker” (known as the “worker-worker” defence). However, it is important to emphasize that the definition of “worker” is not as straightforward as one might think and there may be exceptions, such as:

    • If you or the other driver were on an unpaid break during normal work hours when the accident occurred, you may have the option of making an ICBC claim.

    • You may have the option of electing an ICBC claim if you or the other driver was commuting to or from work when the accident occurred and not paid for travel time.

    • If you were working as an independent contractor when the accident occurred, you may have the option of electing to make an ICBC claim.

There is no definition of who is a “worker” in the Workers Compensation Act – in fact, it is the Workers Compensation Board that makes the decision in each case based on the facts and circumstances. However, there is case law on who qualifies as a “worker” under BC law, which our experienced personal injury lawyers can draw upon to evaluate your situation and advise you on the type of claim to pursue.

Do I need a personal injury lawyer if I’m hurt in a car accident while working?

A personal injury lawyer can protect your legal rights and help you to understand your claim. If you were working at the time of the accident, you should immediately contact our personal injury lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP to assess your options. As noted, our personal injury lawyers can compare the facts of your situation to the body of case law and advise you on whether you may have the right to elect to pursue a personal injury claim through ICBC. There are also strict time limits that apply to bringing a WCB claim or an ICBC claim, so you should not delay in consulting with one of our personal injury lawyers. Call us toll-free now at 1-855-852-5100 to arrange your free initial consultation with one of our ICBC lawyers in the Lower Mainland.

Legal Guidance & More: From Injury to Recovery

Bronson Jones & Company’s personal injury lawyers have significant trial experience and extensive experience in negotiating fair settlements for clients injured in motor vehicle accidents at work. We have also developed a comprehensive network of medical and occupational specialists, therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and others to help you recover and deal with the impact of your injury on your physical health, family life, finances and future. Reports from these experts may be essential in the development of your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call any of the 13 Bronson Jones locations in the Lower Mainland for our expertise and advice. All of our cases are handled on a contingency (percentage) basis and you don’t pay until we collect.

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