Here’s what to do if you receive a letter about an old WCB claim

By Clifford Gerow, Injury Solutions Canada Inc.

During this last year, Injury Solutions Canada Inc. has noted a trend in old claims being resurrected by different Workers’ Compensation Boards and being dropped on employers that, in most cases, do not even remember the claim or employee.

What do you do as an employer? How do you handle this sudden and unexpected letter from your respective WCB?

The one thing you can’t do is ignore it. Trust that when the WCB sends you a letter, they are looking for a response or they will continue with the claim and invoice you for all the costs. These costs can very quickly add up to a significant amount, impacting your premiums, safety record and your ability to be competitive in the bidding market.

Injury Solutions Canada strongly suggests you immediately look back in your records to find out everything you can about the alleged incident – was this person an employee of yours, first and foremost, and was an incident reported to your business on the date of the alleged claim? This is where you cross your fingers – do you have any records of the claimed injury?

In a perfect world, you can answer yes to all the above questions, and you can provide good, detailed information to the requesting WCB to answer their questions in sufficient detail that exonerates your business from any further financial risk, and you can move on because you, at the time, did everything as you should have.

Now, as it has been our experience, not all employers are able to answer those questions fully and completely.

In that case, what do you do? Roll over and take whatever is coming without putting up a defence?
Of course not!

The one thing you can’t do is ignore it. Trust that when the WCB sends you a letter, they are looking for a response or they will continue with the claim and invoice you for all the costs.

We start from the very basics, beginning with your return-to-work (RTW) program. Provide the WCB with a copy of your documented RTW program that states your company is fully capable and willing to accommodate any and all documented restrictions for injured workers. Next, you will, if possible and available, provide any documentation of the injured workers onboarding from human resources/management that clearly states the worker was made aware of and understood the RTW program and their duties to mitigate their wage loss by cooperating with the RTW program and the duties of the employer to accommodate the injured worker and their restrictions at work.

Next, if this was not done at the time of injury, get as much information as possible about the incident from any employees who are still with the company. If there are none, we fall back on the documents that you have or the normal actions your company takes in all injuries to accommodate injured workers at work. This may take getting statements from other injured workers that have been accommodated in the past and from company executives stating that is normal practice for the company.

It is very important to make note in the response to the requesting WCB if accommodation was offered and the injured worker preferred not to accept or if he/she made mention of any previous injuries to the injured part of their body in the past for whatever reason. Previous injuries to the same general area of the body can be very important in an appeal process and can lessen your financial risk and at the same time does not lessen the benefits allowed to the injured worker.

Ensure when you respond to the requesting WCB that this allegation is addressed fully and with all the documentation you have and what you can gather. The more information your business can provide, the better-informed decision the trier of facts can make for everyone involved.
Please do not leave it to just chance. Chance is not your friend. 

Clifford Gerow is the executive director of Injury Solutions Canada Inc.