Self-represented parties at the Alberta appeals commission for worker's compensation.

 
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The Alberta Appeals Commission for Worker's Compensation is a tribunal that hears appeals from decisions made by the Worker's Compensation Board (WCB). In Alberta the scheme for worker's compensation is governed by the terms of the Worker's Compensation Act RSA c. W- 15 and WCB policies that amplify the provisions of the Act. The WCB makes many decisions every day with regard to the management of claims involving injured workers. Anyone who has a direct interest in a claim for compensation can request that any decision relating to the claim made by a WCB claims adjudicator be reviewed internally by the WCB. The decision will be referred for review to the internal Dispute Resolution and Decision Review Body (DRDRB).

Anyone with a direct interest in the claim can then appeal decisions of the DRDRB to the Appeals Commission. Those with a direct interest in the claim are typically the injured worker or the date of accident employer. The WCB may also appear at Appeals Commission hearings and will usually do so when an appeal includes argument concerning the application and interpretation of legislation and WCB policy.

A rationale often quoted for the existence of tribunals like the Appeals Commission is the provision of a speedier and cheaper procedure, as tribunals avoid the formality of the ordinary courts. Less formality supports the idea, in theory, that parties should be able to represent themselves without hiring representatives, legal or otherwise, to advocate for them.

Figures published in the Appeals Commission Annual Report for 2015 show that for the year 2013-2104, 14% of parties before the Appeals Commission were unrepresented, 43% were represented by the Office of the Appeals Advisor and 43% by other representation. For the year 2014-2015, 8% of parties were unrepresented, 51% were represented by the Office of the Appeals Advisor and 41% by other representation. The numbers therefore demonstrate that the great majority of parties appearing before the Appeals Commission do secure some form of representation, either from the Office of the Appeals Advisor or another representative.

The Office of the Appeals Advisor is a free service funded by the Accident Fund, which also funds the WCB. The Office of the Appeals Advisor is however completely independent of the WCB and is available to assist injured workers with their claims. The Office of the Appeals Advisor is not available for assistance to employers who may wish to contest WCB...

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