Jessica Peters is a reporter at the Chilliwack Progress.

COLUMN: Models of care have varied greatly between ICBC and WorkSafe

Fighting to prove serious injuries doesn’t help anybody

When I was 15, I was hit by an excessive speeder (113km/h) from behind on a narrow highway. I was on a bicycle and without a helmet.

I hit the bumper, the hood, the windshield, the ground. I had moved into the oncoming lane because his driving was erratic — or at least that’s what we can piece together because in 28 years I’ve not recalled that moment. There was a dip in the road and he lost sight of me, so he changed lanes, too.

I had to fight with ICBC from the time an adjuster snuck into my room on the children’s ward, to when I turned 19. I had to prove my pain, both mentally and physically. I had to prove it repeatedly. My friends had to speak on my behalf, and be misquoted by ICBC’s adjusters. My parents came under scrutiny. My decision making was questioned.

In the end, I was found half at fault. By the time I paid the law firm, I had $30,000 and change in my pocket. Just enough to ride me through college without needing a part-time job. Considering my skull had been split at the back like a melon just four years prior, it seemed like a good enough trade off.

I’m 43 and still suffer with pain. The money and support, in the form of paid physiotherapy, is long gone.

READ MORE: ‘Fault matters’ at ICBC, injured people matter more, B.C. premier says

Contrast that to just a few years ago when I was in a head-on collision with a semi truck. I was working and so was the other driver, which means this kind of vehicle incident falls under the purview of WorkSafe BC.

Worksafe has a mandate to keep insurance premiums low, while getting workers back to the job site as soon as possible. That means a few things. It means that they get you into their specialists as soon as possible. It means they work hard to rehabilitate you, while educating you about going back to work safely.

I suffered a concussion, whiplash, three broken bones in my dominant hand, and trauma. Airbags stretched the right side of my body so my head was tilted back, while my gear shift (right) hand slammed into the car itself.

This was going to be a long process to heal. In the days after the accident I wondered if I would ever even write again. I had been through ICBC before, and that was my only knowledge of post-accident care. But I didn’t have to prove my pain to anyone. Nobody doubted my injuries. They inquired and cared and looked for ways to help me.

I was given full access to a long menu of services, from hand physiotherapy to an intensive, long term, daily concussion clinic.

This was an entirely different beast of burden — and the entire time, my pay was being covered by WorkSafe. Of course, this insurer is not without its own limitations and faults. There is a lot of paperwork for both the patient and their doctors. There can be lags in pay, and not every WorkSafe phone representative is trained in empathy.

READ MORE: VIDEO: B.C. to reduce ICBC rates, further restrict people from suing

As I healed and was back at work, it got harder and harder to get a return phone call. But they got me there, and just in a matter of months. They even provided an occupational therapist who worked hard with my employer to make sure the gradual return to work was manageable for everyone.

No, there will be no big balloon payment at the end of a long legal battle. But when I look back in retrospect, immediate care and attention, free and easy medical access, and emotional support has a value as well.

Of course, there’s no telling how the announced changes to ICBC will roll out, or if they’ll be similar to WorkSafe’s model of care. But if they at least start caring about injured parties, I predict we’ll all be better off.


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
news@hopestandard.com

@CHWKcommunity
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

ColumnICBCOpinion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Kimberley issues Boil Water Notice

The City of Kimberley issued a Boil Water Notice for all users… Continue reading

Impaired driver apprehended on Hwy 95A at 3:30 a.m. Saturday

Kimberley RCMP continued to remove impaired drivers from the roads. The latest… Continue reading

Hometown heroes: Search and Rescue president Peter Reid

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kimberley Search and Rescue (SAR)… Continue reading

Rivers, creeks flooding across the East Kootenay due to rainstorm

Residents evacuated in Fairmont, other properties on alert due to debris flow concerns

Kimberley schools are open with social distancing in place

Some, but not all, Kimberley students return to school this week, as… Continue reading

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

Most Read