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Gathering Evidence

Knowing the basic principles of evidence will help you to prepare for your appeal.

Evidence is the raw material that establishes the facts which legal interpretation, policy, and logical reasoning will take into account. Evidence includes all means of proof, including oral statements, written records (documents), demonstrations, physical objects, and the like. Arguments or submissions that a party makes to persuade WCAT to view the appeal in a particular way are not evidence.

You can introduce evidence in two ways: orally (verbal statements made by witnesses at an oral hearing) or in writing (any form of written or printed record, including the worker's claim file or the employer's assessment file).

Types of Evidence

There are several different types of evidence.

Direct Evidence  more ...

Direct evidence refers to a firsthand account of events - what eyewitnesses say about facts they perceived with their own senses. Hearsay evidence refers to second-hand accounts of events, such as a report by one person of what they have heard someone else has said or done. Courts generally do not accept hearsay evidence. This is because of its potential to be inaccurate and because the credibility of the source of the evidence cannot be tested. However, WCAT is not prevented from admitting hearsay evidence.

Circumstantial Evidence  more ...

Circumstantial evidence is evidence other than first-hand accounts of events provided by witnesses. For example, a construction worker was seen building scaffolding outside the fourth story of an office building. Soon after, he was found on the ground below. While no one actually saw what happened, the circumstantial evidence indicates that he fell from the building. Courts may decide cases based on circumstantial evidence; so may WCAT.

Character Evidence  more ...

Character evidence includes statements made by people concerning someone else's personal qualities. Generally, character evidence becomes relevant only when someone's truthfulness is at issue. For example, character evidence would not be helpful to a panel where the appeal involves a strictly medical or legal issue.

Expert Evidence  more ...

Expert evidence consists of opinions from witnesses who have a relatively high degree of education, training, or experience regarding a particular subject. Depending on the issue, a doctor, vocational rehabilitation consultant, occupational therapist, engineer, accountant, physiotherapist, or occupational hygienist might provide expert evidence. If a witness has relatively little education, training or experience in a particular area, their personal belief is merely an opinion, not expert evidence.

Medical evidence is a form of expert evidence. For more information about medical evidence .


Principles of Evidence

Relevance  more ...

WCAT may receive and accept evidence it considers relevant, necessary and appropriate, whether or not the information would be admissible in a court of law. Evidence is relevant if it tends to establish the existence or non-existence of a fact at issue.

Admissibility  more ...

While WCAT can admit or receive any kind of evidence, WCAT is not obliged to admit evidence that is clearly irrelevant. WCAT may also exclude any information that is unduly repetitious.

Weight, Credibility and Reliability  more ...

In general, WCAT will admit any type of relevant evidence and later decide what weight should be given to it.

Weight

Weight means how convincing a piece of evidence appears to WCAT during the process of deciding an issue. Measuring the weight of a piece of evidence involves consideration of whether the evidence is believable, internally and externally consistent, plausible, and credible.

The weight or importance which WCAT gives to the evidence is largely a matter of common sense. Direct evidence is generally more reliable than indirect (hearsay or circumstantial) evidence. Hearsay evidence is considered relatively unreliable because its source is not available for questioning.

Expert evidence is generally given more weight than the opinion of a lay person. For example, a doctor's opinion concerning the diagnosis of a worker's condition would almost always be preferred to the worker's own opinion.

Credibility

The credibility of a witness will obviously have a bearing on the weight given to that person's testimony. WCAT will consider whether a witness' evidence is internally consistent, logical, and consistent with prior statements of that same witness.

Reliability

The concepts of reliability and credibility are interrelated. The reliability of a witness' evidence will also have a bearing on the weight to be given to that person's testimony. WCAT will consider whether a witness' evidence is externally consistent, that is, consistent with the proven or undisputed facts in the case. This involves consideration of what is most reasonable and probable when the case is viewed as a whole.

For more information about evidence at WCAT, .

Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal. 150-4600 Jacombs Road, Richmond BC V6V 3B1 * All rights reserved.
Tel. (604) 664-7800 * Toll Free within BC 1 (800) 663-2782 * Fax (604) 664-7898
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