Innovative tools and strategies to help injured and ill workers with their WSIB claims!
Through the last four decades, there has been a consistent and growing need for advocacy services for Ontario workers who were injured on the job, developed a work-related illness, or both. This need for said services is largely attributed to the manner in which the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) conducts itself and in particular, its' treatment of injured and ill workers claiming benefits. I could write a book outlining the Board's many failures and the resulting level of mistrust with those it was setup to protect. In short, most injured or ill workers that I have come across over the past three decades do not trust the WSIB's decision makers, and believe they will try to take advantage of them. In my opinion the WSIB has done nothing to bridge that gap and as long as that goes on, the mistrust will continue!
In 1999, with the implementation of Bill 99, the WSIB took steps to change it's brand including it's name and brought about sweeping legislative changes that would have a monumental impact on the already volatile relationship it had with the workers. For instance, prior to that, the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board was known as the Workers' Compensation Board. Note there was no "Insurance" in its' former name and the word 'compensation' was removed from its' new name. Why? Although very little has been said or written about this one seemingly small change, it set the tone and created a new 'culture' within the WSIB, that it would operate in the same manner as an insurance company. Not to mention the millions of dollars spent in making that change, money that could have gone towards those who needed it most. We all know what insurance companies do when their customers file a claim. Enough said on this point.
The culture that was being created would have far greater intended repercussions for injured and ill workers and their families. For starters, the new legislation would impose appeal time limits on decisions made by the WSIB, with claimants having a short window to appeal prior decisions that had been made in their claims. The move was intended to shut the door on future appeals of decisions made prior to the new legislation under Bill 99. This left many scrambling to figure out what to do. We immediately created a 'generic appeal letter' which was adopted by other advocates, stating an 'intent to appeal' on the part of our clients to protect their right to appeal in the event they wished to do so in the future. However, what happened to all those injured and ill workers who did not have anyone to advise them on how to protect themselves at that time. With this one step, the Board would go on to save millions of dollars.
Historically, options available for injured and ill workers to help them fight for their benefits consisted of, seeking assistance from the government with the Office of the Worker Advisor OWA, an agency that is funded by the WSIB (no conflict there), asking their union to help them, retain a paralegal or lawyer, or attempt to handle their issues on their own as best they could. I am certain many just gave up, injured and discouraged! Although some of the options referenced above, worked for some, they came with their set of challenges, some of which took a long time and others came at a significant cost.
Taking this incredible history into consideration and looking at the evolution of the WSIB system, we believed the timing was right to provide a viable alternative. One that would service this growing need for worker advocacy but provided a wide range of tools empowering them to handle their issues on their own.
INNOVATIVE TOOLS & STRATEGIES
We have created a comprehensive set of tools to allow injured and ill workers to claim or fight for benefits they are entitled to.
Our Settlement Kits address some of the most common issues over the past 30 plus years that can arise in a claim. This is based on our extensive experience in injured worker advocacy and the cases we've handled at all levels of the process. New Kits are added to our roster as needed.
Our WSIB Basics page provides a simplified overview of a typical claim, from filing to the types of benefits that can be paid and the appeal system.
Historically, one of the most common problems we encountered in dealing with claims, was the client's inability to recall certain actions that took place in the their claim. This, often times, lead to credibility issues and a lack of proper documentation to support what the client was complaining about. E-TRACKR allows the client, regardless of proficiency in the English language, operating a computer, or education, to track all actions that he/she has taken with respect to his/her claim. For instance; documenting a doctors visit and what was discussed, including the plan of action. A phone call or meeting with the employer, a discussion with a case manager, remember certain important details at a hearing etc. Each action is time-stamped and the client can also upload document on E-TRACKR. E-TRACKR information can be retrieved when needed by the customer.
For customers who would like to obtain answers to specific questions regarding their claim, they can do so with the Just Ask Joe feature. This feature applies to all claims regardless of the date of their claim. Customers are directed to the appropriate questionnaire corresponding with the date of their claim so that the respondent can provide an answer by referencing the applicable legislation for the period.
This feature allows customers to register their claim by filling out a form. Whenever the WSIB makes changes that could affect those claims, the customer receives a special alert about the change, how it may impact their claim and instructions on what to do, if anything. Why is this feature important? It's simple. The WSIB makes changes and doesn't necessarily inform it's clients of said changes. This is evident in a recent class action law suit alleging the WSIB had created a "secret policy" allowing it to reduce Non-Economic Loss benefits for several thousand injured and ill workers who had a pre-existing condition. The law suit was initially dismissed in a decision by an Ontario Superior Court judge, but later reversed by the Ontario Court of Appeal. Prior to moving to certification, the WSIB reversed their position on the matter and issued a 'revised' policy.
As reported in the Toronto Star on December 15, 2017 the WSIB announced that it "will no longer reduce Non-Economic Loss (NEL) awards for workers who had no prior symptoms of a pre-existing condition. In addition, the WSIB has committed to review 4,500 decisions dating back to 2012 when the practice of apportioning NELs due to non-symptomatic pre-existing conditions began". click here for the full story.
We are incredibly pleased that we have developed the right tools to empower our customers to gain the benefits to which they are entitled! We've also created the support system for our customers to give them peace of mind, knowing they have the right tools at their disposal they can access from the comfort of their own homes!
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Product Development Team