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

The iconic and well-loved live music venue Logan’s is permanently closing its doors due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)
Fernwood pub Logan’s permanently closing its doors

Live music venue unable to weather COVID-19 storm

The Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. closed permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks closes despite petition signed by nearly 250 residents

Closure part of transition to more drive-thru locations, Starbucks spokesperson says

Shawn Magnus of Sidney Courier has partnered with Sidney Business Improvement Area Society for free commercial delivery for society members. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney business association partners with courier for free commercial delivery

Service started Oct. 26 and extends to a radius of 35 kilometres

Victoria police are searching for a suspect after a stabbing Monday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police searching for suspect in late-night stabbing

Victim taken to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Most Read