Fort McMurray Wildfire and WCB Alberta Coverage

Posted in: Claims Costs,Safety | Posted by Rebecca Ingram on May 26, 2016

Fort McMurray Wildfire and WCB Alberta Coverage: The recent and ongoing wildfires in Northern Alberta have been devastating with far reaching effects, including Worker’s Compensation concerns for workers and employers. Should you have questions regarding any aspect of the WCB process or wish to discuss any specific issues or scenarios, please contact us directly at 1-844-377-9545 or by email at [email protected] or [email protected].

Failing to take control of your claim could result in an interruption of benefits or services resulting in unnecessary stress and frustration.

The following information touches on some of the most common WCB related situations:

Current Claims:

If you have a current claim with either the WCB Alberta or a workers’ compensation organization in another province and have been displaced by the Alberta wildfires, you should contact your case manager or claim adjudicator as soon as possible regarding:

  • Benefit payments – if you receive benefits by mail, provide your new address or arrange for electronic funds transfer.
  • Home Care Benefits – to make new arrangements as quickly and easily as possible.
  • Rehabilitation/Medical Appointments – to set up alternate treatment arrangements and set-up new appointment dates where necessary.
  • Modified Work – to discuss how this affects the benefits you receive and determine the next best steps.

Workers’ compensation is designed to support and facilitate an injured worker’s safe and successful return to work with as little stress as possible. Although unforeseen emergencies can cause a disruption to a case plan, it is in your best interest to be proactive and find out what is happening, how the situation affects you, what your obligations are and what your expectations should be. Failing to take control of your claim could result in an interruption of benefits or services resulting in unnecessary stress and frustration.

New Claims:

Injuries sustained while evacuating the workplace:

If you were working at the time of the evacuation and were injured during the evacuation, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Not all injuries will qualify, but if you are in doubt, you can contact WCB Alberta or submit a claim for adjudication. Be sure to provide as much detail as possible regarding the injury, how and where it happened and any other details or information that may be relevant.

Injuries sustained due to smoke inhalation:

Most cases of exposure to wildfire smoke are not-work related, and/or do not result in symptoms such as trouble breathing, asthma attacks, skin rashes or itchy eyes it should not be reported to the WCB Alberta. However, there are exceptions and WCB coverage is available. If you are uncertain if you have sustained work-related smoke inhalation injury, contact the WCB Alberta or submit a claim for adjudication.

Injuries sustained while helping others:

There were many Good Samaritans that provided support and assistance to people during the evacuation. Although the majority of these kind acts are not work-related, there are exceptions. When an employer directs a worker to assist in a non-work-related distress situation and an injury is sustained, WCB may be able to provide coverage. If you are unsure if your injury qualifies for coverage, contact the WCB Alberta or submit a claim for adjudication.

The WCB considers each claim on its own merit and determines eligibility based on the Worker’s Compensation Act of Alberta. Keep in mind that if the WCB denies your claim, it is not suggesting that your injury is not valid or real, it means that it is not an injury covered under the Worker’s Compensation Act. There may be coverage available under your employer’s short term disability insurance, EI, or your own private insurance.

Employer accounts and responsibility:

Your business operations may be affected by the wildfires which may impact your coverage and/or billing. If you are in doubt, contact the WCB directly to answer any questions or concerns. As the relocating, repairing, restoring and rebuilding processes begin, there will be an increased demand for resources and manpower. If you are thinking of starting a business or modifying your existing business to contribute to these initiatives, you will need contact the WCB directly to set up a WCB account or to ensure that your current account has the correct classification.

You may have employees that sustained injuries during the evacuation or as a result of the wildfires. If you have questions about coverage, reporting injuries and the claims process, contact the WCB to help you determine what your responsibility as an employer is during this time.

For additional information regarding claims, employers accounts and coverage, you can contact WCB Alberta.

If you would like further information, have any questions or would like to discuss a specific scenario or situation you can connect with us on Facebook , Twitter , or LinkedIn.  You reach us by email at [email protected], [email protected] or contact us directly, during business hours, using our chat feature or by telephone at 1-844-377-9545.

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