Choosing ICBC or WCB

What is the difference between an ICBC claim & a WCB claim?

The main difference between an ICBC claim and a WCB claim is that an ICBC claim can include damages for pain and suffering, whereas a WCB claim does not compensate you for pain and suffering. WCB generally only pays the income loss and medical expenses that their experts believe are caused by the workplace accident. If you disagree with WCB’s assessment, you must appeal using their procedures and submit to a decision by their tribunals.

An ICBC claim tends to be broader and more comprehensive than a WCB claim – a successful ICBC claim will provide you with compensation for every loss that you can show was due to the accident. A WCB claim is limited to those areas of compensation that WCB is required to pay. Another consideration is that WCB claims tend to be valued based on specific formulae, without any consideration of the context. For example, income loss for a WCB claim is generally calculated based on your income in the 12 months preceding the accident. If you are at the start of your career, or if you had an unusually poor 12 months, this could lead to a very unfair result.

A WCB claim may be the better option if you were wholly or substantially at fault for the accident – your WCB claim will not be reduced to account for your degree of fault, whereas your ICBC claim can be reduced if you were partially or wholly at fault for the accident. Another consideration is that ICBC can deny you no-fault benefits if you have the option to pursue a WCB claim but you elect ICBC. However, you would still be compensated for medical expenses and income loss, but not until your ICBC claim is resolved. In some cases, ICBC will agree to pay your no-fault benefits provisionally, but you would have to repay those benefits if you later elected to proceed with your WCB claim.

A final consideration is that you control your ICBC claim – it is only limited by what you and your lawyer can prove in court. However, a WCB claim is largely controlled by the administrative decision makers at WorksafeBC, and it can be very difficult to challenge their decisions. If you do choose to challenge their decision, you will need to navigate the process yourself or hire a lawyer out of your own pocket. Except in very large claims, WCB lawyers generally do not work on contingency.