ICBC Allowed To Raise Late "WCB Defense" On Undertaking to Pay Equivalent Benefits
Interesting reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry, allowing a Defendant to make a late amendment to their pleadings to raise a WCB defense but in doing so the Court made the Defendant’s insurer promise to pay equivalent benefits to the Plaintiff should the defense succeed.
In today’s case (Roberts v. Pearson) the Plaintiff was involved in a collision and sued for damages. More than three years after the crash the Defendant wished to raise, for the first time, the “WCB Defense”, namely an allegation that both parties were in the course of employment at the time of the crash thus stripping the Plaintiff’s right to sue and forcing him to rely on WCB for compensation.
The court granted the amendment. However the court noted that since the limitation to seek WCB benefits expired the Plaintiff may have their right to sue stripped and be left with no recourse from WCB. The court made the amendment conditional on the Defendant’s insurer “providing an undertaking that if the Workers Compensation Board determines that it has jurisdiction but refuses to extend the limitation period to allow the plaintiff benefits from the date of the accident, the insurance company will pay the equivalent of any benefits the plaintiff would have received save for the delay in making the application to the Board“.
In finding this result just Master Wilson provided the following reasons:
 In this case, the first the plaintiff was aware that the defendant Pearson was working at the time of the accident was February 6, the same date Pearson advised that he took the position the plaintiff was also working. The s. 10 Defence is only applicable if both the plaintiff and the defendant were working. Even if the plaintiff were working at the time of the accident, he would not have known there was a possible bar to his claim until he became aware the defendant was also working.
 The defendants also say that the undertaking should not be imposed because its imposition in Brzozowski and Eugenio was due to the delay between when the defendant was aware of a possible s. 10 Defence and when the application was actually brought. I do not read those cases that way. If the court’s concern had been the delay in bringing the application to amend the pleadings, the undertaking would presumably have only needed to address the prejudice resulting from when the defendant became aware of the s. 10 Defence and the filing of the application to amend.
 The undertakings in Brzozowski and Eugenio are not so limited. Those undertakings required the defendant insurer to undertake to pay the equivalent of any benefits the plaintiff would have received but for the delay in making the application to the Workers Compensation Board without reference to the application to amend. I conclude that the undertaking was to address the prejudice to the plaintiff caused by the fact that the s. 10 Defence was raised after the expiration of the presumptive limitation period in s. 55(1) of the Workers Compensation Act.
 Finally, the defendants say that if I am inclined to permit the amendment conditional upon the undertaking, that I should instead adjourn the application in order that the defendants have an opportunity to review the plaintiff’s entire employment file, which they say I should order produced at this time. I am not prepared to do this for two reasons:
a) Production of the employment file would not be determinative of whether the plaintiff was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident; and
b) The determination of whether or not a person such as the plaintiff was within the scope of their employment is a matter within the sole jurisdiction of the Workers Compensation Board and is thus not something this court has the authority to decide.
 In the circumstances, I am prepared to permit the defendants to amend their response to civil claim, conditional on their insurer providing an undertaking that if the Workers Compensation Board determines that it has jurisdiction but refuses to extend the limitation period to allow the plaintiff benefits from the date of the accident, the insurance company will pay the equivalent of any benefits the plaintiff would have received save for the delay in making the application to the Board, less any benefits paid to the plaintiff pursuant to Part 7.
 The reference to benefits commencing at the date of the accident is to address the plaintiff’s concern that since more than three years has elapsed, there is a risk pursuant to s. 55(3.1) of the Workers Compensation Act that benefits would only be paid from the date of the application. This may or may not be a concern given that the plaintiff did not cease work entirely until 2016. The reference to Part 7 benefits already paid addresses the concern of the defendants as to the potential for double recovery.
 In keeping with the court’s decisions in Brzozowski and Eugenio, costs of this application will be in the cause.