HOW DOES THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ACT AFFECT AN AUTOMOBILE INJURY CLAIM?
A Claimant’s right to compensation could be affected if their injury claim falls under the Workers’ Compensation Act. At the outset, the Workers’ Compensation Board will confirm if the claimant was covered by their employer’s plan. Once coverage is confirmed, the next step is the Board will have to determine whether the claimant was in the course of their employment when the accident occurred.
The Workers’ Compensation Board looks at the claimant’s job duties, any employer accommodations and incentives, the normal hours of work, and any employment contract in place. Each case is determined by its own specific facts and under the Act the Board is not bound by any past decisions it has made.
Once the Board completes their investigation, the Board will advise the claimant of their decision on whether the claimant was deemed to be working or not. If the at-fault driver was also working, the Board will complete a similar investigation. The claimant and at-fault driver usually have the right to appeal any decision made by the Board.
Some jobs and industries are exempt under the Workers’ Compensation Act. A claimant who is deemed exempt under the Act can pursue a normal injury claim and will not be subject to the Act.
CAN THE CLAIMANT’S RIGHT TO CLAIM DAMAGES BE LIMITED
If it is determined that the claimant was working and the at-fault driver was not working, the Board may consent and allow the claimant to pursue an injury claim against the at-fault driver. Any injury claim advanced by the claimant against the at-fault driver will be subject to the provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act, but there will usually be no limits on the damages that the claimant can claim.
In cases where the at-fault driver was working and the claimant was not working, the claimant may pursue a normal injury claim against the at-fault driver. The Act is not applicable and there are no limits on the damages the claimant can claim.
Where the Board finds that the claimant and at-fault driver were both working, there is usually no right for the claimant to pursue an action against the at-fault driver. The Board will pay for the claimant’s treatments and lost wages while off work. Any claims that the claimant has against the At-fault driver will be barred under the Workers’ Compensation Act, unless the Board consents. It is unlikely that the Board would consent, therefore the claimant’s right to damages will be limited to treatment costs and wage losses.
Every case is fact specific and whether a claimant has a right to pursue an injury claim all depends on the facts and circumstances of their case. In many cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will want the claimant to provide them with a letter from the Workers’ Compensation Board that states the Board has no interest in the claim. Failing to provide confirmation from the Board that it is not a Workers’ Compensation matter will often lead to the insurance company denying the claim until the letter is provided.