Present evidence and arguments
You will make your appeal either in writing or at an oral hearing. You can ask for the method you prefer along with reasons for your preference when you give notice to start an appeal. The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) will decide which method will be used and will let you know what to do next.
- Make points as clearly as possible – use point form, if you like
- Use a plain tone – avoid strong or emotional language, such as sarcasm
- Organize information by date
- Underline points you want to emphasize – do not use a highlighter pen because it’s not visible in scanned documents
- Explain where each piece of evidence can be found (e.g. in the WorkSafeBC claim file or with new evidence being submitted)
- Include a copy of any letters you or your representative sent to experts requesting their opinion along with a copy of their bill for providing that service
- Provide all relevant information – do not assume WCAT will investigate further or that you will have more opportunities to submit more evidence or arguments
- Do not include other people’s names or claim numbers – it’s a violation of privacy
- Information from websites should be printed or saved and included with your submission – do not include links to websites
- You do not need to send any information or evidence that’s in the WorkSafeBC claim file – WCAT already has a copy
Provide a written submission
This method is used for appeals that deal with medical, legal or policy issues. During the process, a vice chair or panel reviews the entire WorkSafeBC claim file along with written evidence and arguments submitted by appeal parties or obtained by WCAT. After, the vice chair or panel makes a final decision.
Once the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) registers, validates and assesses an appeal, it provides all parties the entire WorkSafeBC file.
WCAT also sends a letter to invite the appellant to provide submissions and evidence. After this, the appellant has 21 days to send a written submission and evidence to WCAT.
If you don’t have information to share, your Notice of Appeal can be your entire submission. If this is the case, contact WCAT to let them know you won’t be sending anything else.
All documents and evidence must be submitted before the appeal is considered and decided by a vice chair or panel.
All evidence and submissions are shared with the other party involved in the appeal – the participating respondent. They have 21 days to respond to the information.
If they do, the appellant has 14 days to comment on their submission. This is not the time to send new evidence. If new evidence is submitted, the vice chair assigned to the appeal will decide whether or not it can be included. If it is, a copy will be sent to all parties for comment.
More documents or evidence are not accepted after the deadline. WCAT may consider giving more time for the following reasons:
- The issues being appealed are complex
- The appellant has a valid reason for needing more time to get more evidence, interview witnesses or get a representative
- Personal or family health problems, bereavement, or other emergencies
- Vacation that was already arranged or booked
- A current labour relations dispute that limits the opportunity to participate
If you need more time, you can:
- Phone WCAT to request an extra 14 days – no reason is necessary
- Send a written request to WCAT that explains why you need more than 14 days (to a maximum of 45 days)
If you are given more time, the respondent can also request more time.
Attend an oral hearing
At a hearing, all parties explain their case to a vice chair or panel. After, the vice chair or panel makes a final decision. Hearings are not as formal as going to court. They’re used for appeals that:
- Involve credibility
- Have conflicting evidence
- Are complex and a verbal explanation is necessary
- Include parties that find it difficult to communicate in written English
Most hearings are held by video conference and some are in-person or by phone. They last about one hour.
If WCAT decides that evidence needs to be presented at a meeting, you will be scheduled to attend an oral hearing.
Before a hearing, all parties will receive a notice of hearing letter which includes:
- The date and time of the hearing
- Instructions on how to attend the hearing
- Information about providing documents and using witnesses
- Information about how to change the date of the hearing
Notice is sent out at least four weeks before the hearing date. Usually, it’s sent out 12 to 16 weeks before the date.
Appellants must attend. If they don’t, their appeal may be dismissed.
Respondents are not required to attend. If they want to, they can ask their representative to attend on their behalf or send a written submission before the hearing. However, respondents should remember that if they or their representative do not attend, they will not:
- Have an opportunity to present evidence or respond to the appellant’s arguments or evidence
- Receive evidence submitted at the hearing
- Be able to participate any further in the appeal
Others can also attend. Parties can bring their representative to the hearing (if they have one) as well as a support person (who is not a witness or a representative) to observe the hearing.
Within 14 days of receiving the notice of hearing letter, you can contact WCAT to request a longer hearing time or to reschedule the hearing. After that, changes are only made for exceptional circumstances like a personal emergency – not taking a vacation or needing more time to get evidence. Documentation, like a letter from your doctor, will be required to make this kind of last-minute change.
Write down important details that you want to discuss at the hearing. This will help you stick to the relevant facts and provide evidence to support your position.
All evidence and a list of witnesses must be provided at least 21 days before the hearing. This is so that other parties and the vice chair have time to review it before the hearing. Also, send a copy of any letters you or your representative sent to experts requesting their opinion along with a copy of their bill for providing that service. Let the appeal coordinator know if you want to show a video or play a recording at the hearing.
If you have new evidence that you did not submit in time, let the vice chair know at your hearing. Be prepared to explain what the new evidence is, why it’s relevant and why it could not have been provided earlier (i.e. why is it only available at the time of the hearing?). The vice chair will then decide whether to accept it or not. For in-person hearings, bring the original along with two copies of all new written evidence that you have not already submitted. A hearing will not be rescheduled to allow more time to get evidence – it will continue with the information provided.
Witnesses are not required, but sometimes their testimony is helpful to explain or prove what happened. They must have first-hand information about the appeal, not just opinions.
If you do plan to call witnesses, tell them the date, time and place of the hearing. If the hearing is by phone or video conference, share instructions with them for dialing in or signing in.
If someone refuses to be a witness, let WCAT know at least 21 days before the hearing. A vice chair may decide to order the person to attend the hearing as a witness. You’ll need to provide:
- Their name and contact information, including an address and work location (if applicable)
- A summary of their testimony and how it supports your case
- A reason why the witness is not willing to come voluntarily
GET APPEAL EXPENSES REIMBURSED
WCAT can tell WorkSafeBC to pay back expenses related to the appeal. During the hearing, let the vice chair know if you have expenses you would like reimbursed. As part of their final decision, the vice chair will determine which expenses will be paid back.
REQUEST AN INTERPRETER
An interpreter can be provided at no charge. Friends and relatives cannot be used as an interpreter. Indicate if you need an interpreter on the Notice of Appeal form or the Notice of Participation form. You can also request one by writing a letter or contacting WCAT at least two weeks before the hearing. A hearing may be rescheduled if a vice chair decides an interpreter is needed.
In-person hearings are held in a meeting room. Phone and video conference hearings are attended by phone, computer or mobile device.
All parties and their representatives can speak to the vice chair during a hearing – they cannot speak privately with the vice chair. If you want to speak privately to someone else in the hearing, ask the vice chair for a break.
The audio of all hearings is recorded (not the video). You can request a copy of the recording from WorkSafeBC. Do not make your own recording – this includes making an audio or video recording or taking screen shots.
Pay attention. Do not get distracted or use other devices or applications (e.g. social media, games, music or videos). Mute all other electronic devices, like the TV or a cell phone.
Don’t be late. Arrive early – at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. The hearing will not happen unless the appellant attends. Generally, the vice chair will wait 15 minutes for them to arrive.
If the appellant is more than 15 minutes late, the hearing may not take place. WCAT will give the appellant 14 days to provide their reasons for being absent in writing. Participating respondents will have the opportunity to comment on those reasons after which the appellant can respond
The vice chair or panel will decide whether to proceed based on the evidence already available or by written submission, reschedule the hearing, or dismiss the appeal.
The vice chair will wait five minutes for a respondent. The hearing will proceed even if the respondent is late or doesn’t attend. If they arrive late, the vice chair will not restart the hearing or review what has already happened. A respondent who fails to attend an oral hearing is deemed to have waived their right to further participation in the appeal.
STARTING THE HEARING
The vice chair will start the hearing by letting everyone in – to the room or the phone or video conference session. They will begin by introducing everyone at the hearing, explaining what will happen, and providing some “ground rules” – like being courteous and not interrupting when someone else is speaking. They will also state what the appeal is about. Anyone who gives evidence at the hearing promises to tell the truth – either by swearing an oath or making a solemn affirmation.
MAKE YOUR CASE
Both parties are given an opportunity to explain their case, give evidence or call witnesses. Their representative may prompt them with questions to help explain specific details. Each party has an opportunity to respond to evidence – they have the right to ask questions of witnesses.
Witnesses join the hearing when it’s time to give their testimony. The vice chair will invite them in at the right time. After a witness has provided their evidence, they are free to leave. Sometimes a witness chooses to stay after providing evidence, often to provide support for the party who asked them to attend.
GIVE YOUR FINAL ARGUMENT
At the end of the hearing, both parties give their final argument. This is called a submission – a brief summary of the outcome they want, including an explanation of how the evidence and specific WorkSafeBC policies support their case and why.
REQUEST A BREAK
Parties cannot leave the hearing unless they have permission from the vice chair. Let the vice chair know if you need to take a break.
GET A FINAL DECISION
After the hearing, the vice chair will make a final written decision and mail it to all parties.
Request payment for appeal expenses
WCAT can tell WorkSafeBC to pay back your expenses related to the appeal. Which expenses will be paid back will be included in the final decision. The cost of photocopying, postage, faxing, paying a representative’s fees or an employer’s lost wages are not paid back. Expenses are repaid according to:
- Manual of Rules of Practice and Procedure (MRPP) Chapter 16: Expenses and Costs
- Rehabilitation Services and Claims Manual (RSCM) Chapter 10
- Workers Compensation Act Appeal Regulation Section 7: Expenses
Types of expenses. Expenses can be paid back for getting new written evidence that’s relevant to the appeal or for attending an oral hearing.
This could include paying for a report or letter from an expert like a doctor or paying for documents to be translated.
Even if your appeal is not successful, these expenses are usually reimbursed if the evidence was helpful in making the final decision or if it was reasonable to have the information for the appeal.
Amounts are usually paid according to the following rate or fee schedules:
- Report or records from an expert medical witness or from an independent medical examination (PFI evaluation): Doctors of BC Fees for Uninsured Services – effective April 1, 2021 (PDF, 158KB)
- Report or records from a physiotherapist: Physiotherapist Fee Schedule (PDF, 127KB)
- Report or records from a chiropractor: No recommended fees
- Report or records from a massage therapist: Massage Therapy Services Fee Schedule (PDF, 62KB)
- Report or records from a naturopathic physician: Naturopath Fee Schedule (PDF, 112 KB)
- Report or records from a dentist: BC Dental Fee Guide (PDF, 36KB)
- Report from a psychologist, including neuropsychological assessments: Psychologist Fee Schedule (PDF, 98KB)
- Report from a functional capacity evaluation (FCE): Functional Capacity Evaluation Services Fee Schedule (PDF, 145KB)
- Employability assessment (EA) or individual rehabilitation plan (IWRP): Usually done by WorkSafeBC at a flat rate of $2,250 or $75/hour to a maximum of $2,250
- Report from an ergonomic assessment: Suggested Fee Guide – Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, BC Chapter (PDF, 327KB). Review noteworthy appeals that show how this type of expense was evaluated: WCAT-2012-02739 (PDF, 59KB), WCAT-2013-02405 (PDF, 97KB)
- Job demands analysis: Return to Work Support Services Fee Schedule (PDF, 770KB)
- Vocational testing or assessment: Vocational Interest and Aptitude Testing (PDF, 99KB), Psycho-Vocational Assessment Services (PDF, 74KB)
- Attendance at a hearing by an expert medical witness (e.g. a doctor or specialist): Doctors of BC Fees for Uninsured Services – Medical Expert Witness Fees – effective April 1, 2021 (PDF, 50KB). Reimbursing non-medical expert witnesses is also possible if their participation is required
If an expert’s fees are higher than these fee schedules, WCAT may consider ordering the full amount to be paid if:
- The issue being addressed is unusually complex
- The expert was required to review a significant body of evidence
- The expert has a high level of expertise in a unique area
- There is limited availability of experts in the area
- The expert was required to test or examine someone in order to provide their opinion
To get reimbursed, submit a written request to WCAT along with:
- An itemized invoice and receipts
- A copy of your letter asking for an expert opinion
- A copy of a report or opinion from an expert along with their invoice for this service
- Reasons why the full amount should be reimbursed (if the expert’s invoice is higher than the fee schedules above)
Make your request when you submit evidence or at your oral hearing. If the vice chair orders appeal expenses to be paid, send your invoice and receipts to WorkSafeBC.
If an appellant is successful in their appeal, their expenses for attending an oral hearing may be repaid, including lost wages for taking time off work, travel, meals and accommodation. Witness expenses may be reimbursed if their attendance was helpful or if it was reasonable to have their information for the appeal (regardless of the appeal outcome). Employers are not usually reimbursed for costs to attend an oral hearing.
Amounts are usually paid according to WorkSafeBC policy – see the Rehabilitation Services and Claims Manual Chapter 10, Item 83.00
Travel costs may be paid for distances that are 20 kilometres or more. Travel must be within B.C. Reimbursement for the full amount of a trip is usually ordered if WCAT requires a party or witness to attend a hearing.
To get reimbursed, make your request for expenses at the oral hearing – the vice chair or panel will ask if you are seeking reimbursement of expenses. The final decision will provide information about payment. You will need to provide an itemized invoice and receipts for and travel expenses and lost wages.