What do you do when your life has been stolen?

First let me say that I really don’t want to get beat up here. It’s taken me a very long time to build up the courage to do this and I am just looking for opinions. It probably seem a bit rambly, but I will answer any questions and the more questions asked, the better it will be for me to gather my thoughts in a single space. Some of the effects of the accident are my short term memory is quite bad and I have a very hard time concentrating for any amount of time, especially doing paperwork or writing.

Back when I posted this in 2009, Who says I have to follow the rules? - Great Debates - Straight Dope Message Board , I was really asking because when something went horribly wrong in my life, nobody involved followed the rules. This lack of abiding by the rules has cost me everything I have worked for in my life. So here it goes…

In October of 2005 I was electrocuted at work. I was checking for voltage on a CNC machines bussbar when my right hand contacted the bussbar. The machine runs 600 volts DC. The guy I was working with told me after it happened that I had stuck to the bussbar for three to five seconds. He said he had enough time to reach for a 2X4 to try to knock me off of it, but when he turned around I had come off of it. I did not lose consciousness and there was no entry of exit wound. I did however feel very unusual. I decided that I should go to the hospital and reported the accident to the proper people. I drove myself to the hospital with my co-worker coming with me. They examined me at the hospital and released me. Every test result came back within normal limits. I returned to work later that afternoon, but I still did not feel quite right. I returned to the hospital the following day after work and the doctor told me to take a few days off. I stayed at work for the next two days because I had to drive my co-worker around and then get him to the airport so he could return home. After a few days they sent me to see a neurologist who told me to take another week off and I should be fine. This continued to the point of the doctors saying that 18 – 24 months was the maximum recovery time for a brain injury. This part is not really where the problems started.

Around the end of November, I was contacted by the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) asking me if I was injured at work. I told them that I had been electrocuted and asked why they were contacting me. They told me that they had received a bill from the hospital and that there was no accident reported. As it turns out the company that I worked for, I was a sub-contractor at the place the accident happened, did not have workers compensation coverage and that the accident was never reported. Now let me explain that the company that I worked for was a very large European company that did 1.1 billion dollars in sales a year and the company that I was working at was also one of the largest parts manufacturers in the world for there type of manufacturing. This left me against them so you can imagine the odds. The WCB screwed me around for months while they tried to figure out what to do. My employer continued to pay me for the months of November and December but just at my flat rate of pay then they stopped paying me. In the meantime I had applied for my Long Term Disability (LTD) and there was a seventeen-week waiting period. In the middle of March of 2006 WCB contacted me and told me that they had decided to back date the coverage for my employer and they would pay me back to January, 2006. Please keep in mind that all this time the doctors were saying that I would be fine and back to work in no time, which was what I had expected. My LTD came in on the third week of February so at least now I had some income. When my WCB came in mid March I now had two checks coming in and it seemed that I had an awful lot of tax-free income coming in. I called the controller of my employers company, who looked after the benefits from my work insurance (LTD), and told him that it seemed as though something was wrong. He told me that I was entitled to receive both. I have a taped phone conversation in which he states this. I should add that in April of 2004 I had just purchased a new home and we had spent all of our savings on that purchase so money was quite tight. In June of 2006 I contacted my LTD supplier and told them the same thing about the money and was told that my best bet would be to wait until the end of the year and they would make the necessary adjustments. At that point I stopped spending the LTD checks. Because I was now making about a third of what my regular income was I was feeling the pinch, and really believed that I was going to return to work, so we had used our credit cards to survive. When Christmas of 2006 came around, we were pretty broke so I talked to my wife and we decided that we could take some of the LTD checks and put them on our credit cards so that we could buy some Christmas presents. My thinking at the time was that it would be like an interest free loan and that we would pay it back once everything was straightened away. In January of 2007 the LTD supplier cut me off first saying that I had no medical evidence to support my claim. Which was obviously untrue, then they changed their reason to that I violated the policy and was double dipping and did not report it. To shorten it up, I can provide more details if necessary, they wound up suing me for close to thirty thousand dollars in overpayments. I do have most of the evidence to prove that I had contacted them and told them that I was in receipt of WCB payments. I wound up having to counter sue them and this is still unresolved.

In June of 2006 I contacted the Department of Labour (DoL) to get a copy of the accident report, and they had no idea what I was talking about. Always here in Canada the Labour Department investigates accident in the workplace that are as severe as mine. It turns out that the accident was never reported to them. I called them about a year later as a follow up and they said that my case worker had the copy of the accident report, there is no DoL report in my file. And while I am on this subject, how could they do an accident investigation without speaking to the only two people who were there to see it. Now would be a good time to mention that my co-worker was from Europe and had returned three days after the accident.

Over the course of the next five years I was sent to many medical professionals, most of who were paid for by the WCB, and all said that there was no way I could return to work. They also said that I was not a good candidate for retraining. I have seen four neurologists, a pain specialist, a neuro psychologist twice, psychiatrists, psychologists, ent’s, a vocational rehabilitation specialist and even three days testing with rehab specialists, all said there was nothing they could do for me. There were more but I can’t think of them now.

The trade off of workers Compensation coverage in Canada is that you can’t sue your employer. However since my employer did not have coverage when I was hurt I thought I would have a right to sue and recover some of the lost earnings. I was only 38 when I was injured and the lost income alone is in the millions of dollars. I worked for my employer for two years and had no coverage all that time. I can’t figure out how you can get insurance after an accident, it would be like smashing your car with no insurance and then trying to get insurance coverage for that accident, it’s not going to happen.

Here’s an interesting point. The WCB states that you are required to have coverage if you have three or more employees working for you. If you have less than three employees you can buy special coverage. This coverage is based on every ten thousand dollars of income paid to the employee. If you do not have coverage this leaves you liable for damages resulting from an accident or it would be put on the WCB bill of the business that owned the property that you were working at. In this case a percentage of payroll and they had over 200 people making in the twenty dollar an hour range, it would have been a drastic increase to their WCB premiums. At first my employer sent two letters saying they did not need coverage because they only had one employee in this province, they were from a different province. They then received a letter from the company I was working at that stated if they had more than three employees that they would qualify for coverage, so they sent a letter to WCB saying that they had three employees working in my province. This was not true, I was the only one from my province that worked there. Any other employees from my employer would not qualify for coverage because any time they were here they were traveling from there home province in which they would be covered by there own provincial WCB. This makes them ineligible to be covered by the WCB from my province. As a side note my employer would occasionally send someone to help me with large jobs and they never stayed more than five days.

I have had three lawyers on this and they have all wasted their time. My first lawyer was a friend of mine who agreed to try to get me some information and he was stonewalled. The second one was from one of the largest law firms in the province. When I explained my case to them they decided to take me on as a client. They had one meeting with the WCB and dropped me stating that it would cost too much and take too long to win. This firm had sent as letter to the WCB and cc’d me. The letter asked some specific questions, I would have to dig it out to get the questions, but they would not answer them. I took my copy of the letter to my friend the lawyer and asked him to send it on his letterhead and see what they would say. They would not even acknowledge receipt of it. The third lawyer I saw basically told me the same as the first and told me to just take the money they were giving me and make the best of it.

As of right now I have lost almost everything. I have had to sell belongings to feed my family, the bank took my house and to be honest I have almost completely lost my mind. I have been a less than ideal parent and husband, I’m no longer the happy go lucky guy I once was. My family has suffered just as much as I have, having to deal with my avoidance, irritability and lack of understanding, not to mention the financial hardships. The frustration and stress that I have been put through over the last eight years has been nothing short of torture. I have been a victim of fraud and lies by the government, the insurance company and my employers. I have no desire to live in poverty for the rest of my life, to see my wife and kids struggle and have to constantly say no to them or to have to make decisions on whether it’s going to be food or heat. I did nothing wrong, I was injured at work. As I have always said “If this had been above board the whole time, there would be nothing I could do about it, but I was screwed over and I can’t just let that ride.”

I know this is long and broken, but I have held this inside for eight years and I have a very hard time talking about it. I was talking to one of my doctors a few weeks ago and we were discussing the closure of an addiction services center .The clients got involved and started an information campaign, which resulted in the re-opening of the center. The part that I took away from the conversation was when he said that these people had the courage to band together and out themselves as addicts to fight for a place that helped them. I realized right then that the one thing I lacked was the courage to put it all on the line and try to do the right thing, and that is what I am trying to do now, so please bare with me.

I have lost all faith in the system and have a hard time trusting anything anyone says to me. I can’t let it go until I know I have done everything in my power to resolve these issues, and it seems that going public and trying to fight it on my own is the only way. As I said before I will answer all questions that I can and this will help me get all the details in one spot. I am scared to death to post this, I have always been afraid to rock the boat to much in case they took away the little that I have left, but no more. Win lose or draw I want to be able to say I did everything I could to right this and if it stops it from happening to anybody else, well that’s good too.

I am coming to the “Dope” first because I know that you guys will be skeptical and ask all the right questions. This will help me organize myself and I would truly appreciate the help.

So I guess my questions are… What do you think? and What would you do?

Where did you go to emerg in Canada that you were not repeatedly pestered about whether this was a work related injury? I’m curious as they ask that of every admission to emerg where I live, and have done so, as a protocol, for over 10 years.

I have friends who are sub contractors and they have always led me to understand as ‘subs’ workers comp payments were their responsibilities entirely. And the system was set up to stymie efforts to mitigate the effects of not making the payments by suing the employer. My understanding was that’s the very reason subs cannot sue the employers, in such circumstances.

Were you making payments and carrying workers comp coverage, at the time? Did the employer enquire if you had coverage when you were hired? Again, my understanding is that’s the protocol, and their asses are covered if the sub lies and says he’s covered when he’s not. Sorry if I missed it in your lengthy OP.

If, however the employer failed to inquire as to whether you were covered, or contracted you knowing you weren’t, the I think you definitely have a case!

Either way, I’m sorry you’re having such difficulties and hope you get things worked out. Wishing you good luck!

Thanks elbows,this is why I wanted to do this here first, so I could organize it properly.

You are correct in everything you said. I was asked if I was hurt at work in the hospital and I reported it as a workplace accident, however it is not the hospitals responsibility to report the accident to the WCB. They want to know if it happened at work for billing purposes.

I see what you mean by “subs” and I wasn’t actually a sub myself. I was a full-time employee of an out of province company that had a contract with the company that owned the building and operations where I was working at when the accident happened… I know that they had to sign off as having coverage before I was allowed in the building to perform any work. They wee very careful of covering their asses when it came to outside contractors working on their properties. I had been there working for different companies for over five years and the last two before the accident were with the same company. So essentially I worked for two years for them with no coverage.

This is why the WCB did not find out about the accident until about thirty days later. That’s when they called me, in late November, and asked if I had been hurt at work, they had just received the bill from the hospital and had no accident report to go with the bill. I was hurt in late October.

Also I should add that I reported the accident to the management at the place I was working and to my employers before I went to the hospital.

But isn’t the second question, at emerg, have you reported it to WCB? And are they not required to report it regardless of your answer? I’ve always understood it was like suspected child abuse, the hospital is obligated to report it to WBC, regardless of what you tell them about whom you told or didn’t.

I hope you get it sorted, I know others who were caught fighting the WBC, and it never ended in their favour, here’s hoping you’re the exception!

No, I don’t recall if they asked me nor am I sure that they have to. All I can tell you about that is what I said before …that WCB contacted me about a month later.

I know what you mean about others fighting them, but the difference with me is that I am the only one I have ever heard of fighting to get off of WCB. People are usually fighting to get a claim accepted or reinstated.

What exactly are your goals at this moment?

Your situation is extremely unfortunate, but all the Canadian legal experts you have consulted who know far more than we of the SDMB will ever know re the ins and outs of your legal system and the specifics of your situation seem to be telling you quite plainly that either you are not going to get the level of disability you are seeking, or that you have no practical means of forcing the WBC to do your bidding. At this point it appears that’s kind of “game over” and spending more effort in this regard is a waste of your very limited resources.

You seem mentally focused and acute enough to write a very detailed and complex account of your scenario. You are 46 years old. Within the limits of your physical limitations what have you investigated as alternative ways of earning a living if they will not give you the level of disability you are seeking?

You have expended a huge amount of effort on this quest and you have been slapped back on every level. Might it not be best at this point to direct the energies you have remaining in another more practical direction that will enable you to earn a decent living vs an endless, seemingly hopeless fight with the WBC?

Not to nitpick (well, a little), but for clarity’s sake your injury should be described as an electric shock.

To say you were electrocuted at work implies you are posting from beyond the grave.

I’m not going to “beat you up”, but I am going to be honest with you.

I’m not without sympathy as I spent years of my life in litigation over a matter where I due a great deal of money. I was one million percent in the right. In the end, I ended up with less than seven cents on the dollar through no fault of my own. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I gave myself 24 hours to get over it because those bastards had taken up so much of my time and energy, and I wasn’t going to allow it to continue.

No one stole your life. You had an accident, and from everything you say (drove yourself to the hospital, all tests within normal limits, felt a little unusual, doctors telling you that you would be fine and back to work in no time) you weren’t hurt that badly. I’m positive it wasn’t pleasant by any means, but you don’t come across as someone who is unable to be employed.

You may or may have not been shafted by the insurance company and your employer. Three lawyers have told you they can’t help. Have you gone to someone who does only workers comp? To me, it seems like turning to a friend wasn’t an ideal thing to do. In your convoluted situation, you needed someone whose specialty is workers comp. If you can find someone who specializes in this and thinks they can help, wonderful. You’ve had 8 years to do this, and if you really feel something has changed, then go for it. Do it tomorrow. You’ve had 8 years to get everything in order. Make an appointment and stop pissing around. If they can’t help you and can’t refer you to someone who can, then you need to accept it and walk away.

Your have a few main issues. One is that for whatever reason, you never ever considered the possibility that you would need a Plan B. Everyone needs a backup plan. If in 8 years you have lost “millions of dollars” in income, you must have been making serious money. Certainly enough to have significant savings so that a year later you wouldn’t be “broke”. And certainly enough to have been carrying your own disability policy to protect your income and lifestyle. What if instead of an accident at work, you slipped on wet leaves in your yard or smacked your head on your diving board or any of a million other things that involved no one but you that could have disabled you? Who would have stolen your life then? Branding yourself a victim who has no control or say in what happens in their life isn’t doing yourself (or your family) any favors.

Faith in the system and trust in others? Please. That’s crybaby talk. You and only you are in first position when it comes to protecting your interests. How well you protect your interests has a lot to do with how things turn out in your life.

Another issue is that in all these years, you don’t seem to have prepared for an alternate career so that you can make the kind of money you want to support your family the way you want to. In 8 years, you could have gone back to school and been well on your way to another phase in your life. Don’t you feel that teaching your children how to adapt in less than ideal circumstances and how to turn things around would be useful?

What is your wife doing to contribute financially? In 8 years she could have launched a new career also.

“I can’t just let that ride” Yes, you can, and the sooner the better. Your dire situation isn’t temporary, it’s your reality and has been for some time. Do you want to wallow in it or move on? It really is your choice. Sometimes in life, no matter how right you are, things don’t go your way. This is something most people learn at a very young age. The people who accept this and adapt to their situation and launch into Plan B, Plan C and make whatever adjustments they need to make to their life are the ones that end up the happiest. You do what you can to fix it, if it can’t be fixed you accept it and move on to the next thing.

Few people pass through life without obstructions. You can figure out a way around or over this, or you can sit down in front of it and hold your ground until the day you die.

Restructure your life and take it back. That is the one thing that is going to make this ok. You take the reins back, find something else you want to do and get going. Get busy and dig your way out of this mess.

I don’t mean to be harsh, either - that’s a pretty lousy story, and it does sound like you got handed a really shitty deal through no fault of your own, but I have to agree that after eight years, it might be time to let it go and see what you can do to get past this pile of crap.

I agree. A lot of us get handed shitty situations in life and need to move on. I don’t even know from your OP what your particular disability is? Why can’t you work? Maybe it was buried in the wall of text?

The reason the legal experts do not want to take it on is only because of the cost and time it will take to resolve. They all agree that eventually I should win, but when dealing with the WCB, if they are told to appear in court there is a good chance they won’t show up.
I am not trying to get my level of disability increased as it is quote high already. They have calculated me at a 75% disability, and when i mentioned this on the phone to one of the WCB workers they asked me if I could walk. I am also not trying to get them to do my bidding, I want them held responsible for the fraud committed in order to back date the WCB coverage for the company I worked for. This is turn would allow me to sue and recover some of my lost wages.

This is where the problem is. There is no way i could find a job that I would be able to hold that would pay me more than what I get on my pension. As one doctor put it… “Is he capable of being a WalMart greeter, probably. Is it in his best interest to be a WalMart greeter, absolutely not.”

Yes I am well aware of that and I should have known better than to use electrocuted here, but I am so used to dumbing this down when talking to people and even most of the reports use the term electrocuted. I’m pretty sure I have used the term electric shock injury before here on the dope. It just sounds too fancy.

Yep, already done that. My wife was injured in an accident in 2002 and nine years later settled for about six cents on the dollar. She did this because they starved us out and we wanted to try to keep our home. Every cent was spent on the bills we had accumulated since my accident, but it was not enough to save us. It bought us some time, but yeah, I moved on from that.

The accident itself was pretty painless. It was the memory problems, the concentration issues, the dizziness issues and the inability to no longer be able to finish what I started. For a few years they treated this as a brain injury, but the neuropsych test scores were for the most part in the superior range. This was why they stopped treating it as a brain injury. the problem I had with that was they had no baseline of me to compare it to previous to the accident. Returning to my previous work doing electrical and electronic stuff was out of the question also because I get a little jittery whenever I am near electrical stuff. Also throughout all the testing they determined that I was unsuitable to be sent back to school. I’m not sure if you are familiar with WCB and insurance companies, but they make damn well sure you can’t do anything else before they decide that they are going to write you off and give you a pension for the rest of your life. I have wanted to try to go back to work, but they would not promise me that if I tried and failed that my pension would still be there, nor would they take responsibility if I screwed up and killed myself or someone else.

When I say stole my life, I mean the fact that all the backdoor deals to get coverage pushed through and outright ignoring my pleas for an investigation. When I said I felt a little unusual, that was understating, and I still feel the same today.

There seem to be no lawyers in my province that do WCB claims and if they do it is usually to try to get someone a claim reinstated or started. The only problem I have with the lawyers is that they want a lot of money to make it happen. They won’t take it because it will take forever and cost a small fortune. I’m hoping to try to represent myself at this point.

As I explained I am not capable of working. I mean I may be but my options are very limited and will not help me financially.

I meant over the last eight years and until I retired at 65.

I did have my own, but as I stated in the OP they cut me off after one year. The litigation with them is ongoing, my lawyer is sure we will win that within a reasonable amount of time. I had represented myself for the last seven years in that one, but they didn’t take me seriously and just kept putting me off. My lawyer in that case completely understands the WCB case but they don’t want to touch it because of who it is and the difficulty dealing with them.

Absolutely, like I said in the OP if this was aboveboard there would be nothing I could do about it. I agree 100% that a million other things could have happened, but they didn’t, this did. I learned a long time ago that I can’t live in what ifs so I don’t think about them.

No. I no longer trust the system. The system that is supposed to be in place, that I pay for, to protect me when something like this happens. Let me tell you something, it does not exist. If you get hurt at work,say you break your leg, they pay you, you heal and you return to work, no problem. But I bet you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has been permanently disabled who will tell you that they had no problems and are quite happy with the service they got.

I don’t mean people on the street, I mean the professionals that lied to me, twisted words around and outright screwed me over knowing full well that they were not being honest. Don’t get me wrong, I understand how it works…do what your told or find another job, but I find it hard to believe any advice I get from any of these people anymore.

Once again I pointed out in the OP that they would not send me back to school, they opted for the permanent pension. I do not have the means to pay for another college degree.

You have no idea how much I wish I could do that for them, trust me they are the ones getting the shitty end of the stick and I would give anything to do that for them.

My wife was injured in 2002 and has not been able to work since. Last week she started a part time job so the we might be able to get a few things for the kids for Christmas, but she is having a hard time with it.

Once again I have to completely agree with you, it’s great advice. I have spent my life flexing and adapting and I am proud to be able to teach my kids these skills. I’m a pretty smart gut with a ton of street smarts, a good education, experience in things that most people don’t even know exist nor would they want to. I have been beat up, stabbed, shot and a number of other things that have hardly even slowed me down throughout my life,but this, this stopped me in my tracks. I would love to just say screw it and move on, but there is nowhere to move on to. I want more than anything to dig myself out of this shithole and start over, but, I just can’t seem to do it now.

Wait a sec … you have a pension and a 75% disability and this whole fight is to get them to back date the coverage for you to an earlier point in time so you can sue your employer for millions? You are bright and articulate enough to write this large and complex missive and you are strong and mobile enough to work as a retail greeting clerk, but this work is not accessing your full potential so it is “not in your best interests”.

And in this context your take on it is that “your life has been stolen”.

Yeah… I’m beginning to see the problem here.

If you are depressed to the point of inertia, you need to get professional help. Isn’t that free in Canada?

I do know a lot about disability. One of my parents became completely disabled when I was a child and I had to become the breadwinner until I was emancipated at age 16.

Have you considered that perhaps its not a WC attorney that you need?

Ignoring your pleas??? WTF??? When you have an issue with someone and are getting nowhere, you don’t keep presenting your case to them. You go to someone who can do something. Someone with pull who can get things rolling or point you in the right direction, like the Canadian version of a Congressional representative.

As far as school goes, don’t they have grants and scholarships in Canada? I would think you would be able to put together a pretty compelling application.

If I understand correctly, they allegedly were able to backdate the coverage which allowed him to get the 75% disability and pension. Without the coverage he’d have really been screwed, but would’ve retained the right to pursue a long shot lawsuit for millions. Since he did have coverage (even if it was backdated), he’s barred from suing the employer. That’s the essential ‘bargain’ between workers and employers. You get insurance coverage for accidents but you’re not able to sue your employer on top of it.

(that said, my interpretation makes it sound like even more of an :rolleyes: situation)

You know what, that is the million dollar question. One that I have not been able to have answered myself. I have no idea what is wrong with me. I have been told I have everything from a brain injury to PTSD to anxiety to depression, to diffuse electrical injury, all from different doctors. Never heard of diffuse electrical injury? Me neither, until I picked up the phone and called the professor of electrical engineering at the University of San Diego. He explained it to me and put me in touch with his co-researcher at the electrical trauma unit at, what I believe was, The University of Chicago. In my opinion, they have come closest to describing my symptoms.

The WCB sent me to a psychiatrist, one of theirs, who after two years wrote in his final report, that I suffered from no psychological or psychiatric disorders,and had always said that I needed no medication.

The final decision for the pension was based on ,I think, some unnamed psychiatric issue. I just don’t remember that detail at the moment.

So to answer your question, I have no idea.

Who owes you a living then and for what reason? Are you kidding me?

I’ve never been injured at work, but I’ve been laid off a few times and I worked my fucking ass off to find new work. I currently commute 160 kilometers each way to work and back every day to pay the bills.

I think you need to man-up and take some responsibility.

No, they backdated the coverage when I got hurt. Otherwise, my employer would not have had coverage and would have had to accept liability.

That was not my words, that was what the psychiatrist said. He went on to say that given the position and responsibility held by me,at the time of the accident, having to move to menial employment such as that , could have devastating psychiatric effects. I’m pretty sure he meant that given what had happened, it could probably lead to depression.

No, not in that text. I can see how you would think that if I had said it, but it wasn’t me.

Where did you get that from?

Not sure what you mean here?

Yep , tried that, got absolutely nowhere. I can’t even remember what he told me exactly, but just outright said he would not be able to help me. he was my MLA, member of the legislative assembly, after that I didn’t bother with the member of parliment, this is a provincial issue, not a federal one.

At that point I had become convinced that this was as good as it was going to get. They said they would not send me back to school because the chances of me succeeding was too low.