Lisa T. Picotte-Li with Whitelaw Twining Law Corporation is discussing litigation and workers' compensation at the B.C. Road Builders Fall Conference.
She is starting by explaining the differences in the various levels of the court system. She is starting with B.C. Provincial Court. It's a lower level of court that only accept cases with small claims up to $25,000.
The next level is Supreme Court of B.C., followed by the B.C. Court of Appeal, which is the highest court in the province and hears appeals from the Supreme Court.
"Litigation is expensive," she said and added that it can be a long drawn out process. "It can take years," she said. There is also the Supreme Court of Canada, which hears about 500 cases from across the country each year.
There is strong push to move litigation out of the courts and move to administrative tribunal, which run parallel to the court system. They are faster and less expensive, she said. Workers Compensation is considered an administrative tribunal. Once a workers compensation claim is started, then it can't be taken to court.
Lisa said there are three types of claims:
- Worker returns to work without losing time from work beyond the day of injury.
- Claims more than three weeks are transferred to the Entitlement Unit.
- There are claims that involve non-traumatic activity-related soft tissue, catastrophic injury, severe brain injury, or psychological injury. These are transferred directly to a case manager.
There are advantages of talking claims to the workers compensation stream. One benefit is that there is no determination of fault, as long as the injury is determined to have occurred. "It's a no fault system", she said.
Litigation can take years, she said, but most administrative tribunals adjudicate claims in a months. Litigation costs much more and can include cost assessments once the judgement is delivered. However, she said, litigation is much more rigorous and has a structured examination of evidence. If also offers the opportunity to directly address questions to proponents in a setting where the truth is legally required. Fewer and fewer claims are going to trial, she said.
The B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association Fall Conference is taking place at the Delta Grand Hotel in Kelowna B.C. from Sept. 13-15. Check back for stories and videos from the conference.