In BC, if you are hurt in the course of your employment, you are entitled to compensation even if the accident was your fault or no one’s fault at all. But what happens if you are hurt in the course of your employment and it was someone else’s fault? Can you sue the person whose fault the accident was? As is often the case in law, the answer to a simple question is frustratingly complex.
Under the Workers Compensation Act, if a worker is injured in the course of their employment by another worker or an employer also working in the course of their employment, they must claim under the workers compensation system and cannot bring a lawsuit. For example, if your colleague accidently dumps hot fryer grease on your hand, you have to claim workers compensation benefits and cannot sue your colleague or your employer.
On the other hand, if you are injured during the course of your employment by a person who is not a worker or employer, or who is not acting in the course of their employment, then you have to choose between workers compensation and a lawsuit. For example, if you are a bike courier and are hit by a driving tourist, you get the choice.
Generally, the pro of choosing to go with workers compensation benefits is that you start getting benefits right away and you don’t have to prove that it wasn’t your fault. However, the workers compensation system does not compensate you for all of your potential losses. Bringing a lawsuit allows you to claim for all of your losses arising out of your injury, but also requires you to prove your injuries were someone else’s fault and it could take months or years to get any money at all.
Seem complicated? That’s because it is. If you have been injured and you are not sure how, or whether, the Workers Compensation Act applies to your situation, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer about the circumstances of the injury to determine your rights.