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What to Do After a Work Accident


According to the CNESST’s annual report (in French only), the organization handled 95,000 cases in 2019, an increase of 3.2% from the previous year. This number represents tens of thousands of work accident victims who need to know how to take action and get justice.

It’s best to contact a lawyer who specializes in work accidents. Me Bégin is very familiar with these types of cases and can guide you through the process with an expert hand.

Even if you decide to act alone, it’s important to be properly informed so that you can follow procedure and avoid pitfalls.

What Quebec law says about work accidents

Before you can take action, you need to know your rights. For accidents that take place in Quebec, the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases regulates compensation for employment injuries and their consequences for victims.

The Act defines an industrial accident as “a sudden and unforeseen event, attributable to any cause, which happens to a person, arising out of or in the course of his work and resulting in an employment injury to him.” The injury can be physical or psychological in nature.

The law establishes the right to compensation for injuries suffered, including care, rehabilitation and income replacement, in addition to the right to return to work.


The procedure to follow after a work accident in Quebec

There are 3 steps to follow after a work accident:

  1. Report the accident to your employer
  2. Get a medical note from a doctor
  3. Fill out and submit the CNESST Worker’s Claim form


1. Inform your employer

When there is a work-related accident, you or someone else must inform your employer promptly. The employer is required by law to:

  • Provide first aid if the accident occurred in the workplace
  • Pay for transportation to your home or a healthcare facility if necessary

As a precaution, even if you do not require medical attention, we recommend that you:

Both of these measures help prove you were the victim of an accident, which may be useful if your health only begins to deteriorate weeks or months after the incident.


2. Get a medical note from a doctor

After informing your employer, you must see a doctor and get a medical note. The note will provide an account of your physical injury or mental distress. The doctor is responsible for setting a date for your return to work.

The medical note is vital if you want to claim compensation from the CNESST, which is called a worker’s claim (see the next step).


Obligations if you are unable to return to work

You are responsible for getting the medical note to your employer if you are unable to return to work after the accident. Your employer must then submit the Avis de l’employeur form to the CNESST to get reimbursed for your first 14 days of absence.

Responsibility for paying your salary depends on the length of your absence:

  • Unable to work the day of the accident: Your employer pays 100% of your salary if you are unable to work the rest of the day.
  • Unable to return to your regular job in the short term: Your employer must assign you temporary work.
  • Unable to work for 2 weeks or less: Your employer must pay 90% of your net wages for the days you would normally have worked. However, you will not be paid for the day of the accident.
  • Unable to work for more than 2 weeks: You may request compensation (worker’s claim) from the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (see the next step).


3. Claim compensation from the CNESST

You have 6 months from the date of your accident to claim compensation from the CNESST. You can claim expenses even if you didn’t have to miss work.

You can make your claim by filling out the Worker’s Claim form on the CNESST website in the Mon Espace section (in French only).

2 special cases

  • Occupational disease: In addition to the Worker’s Claim form, fill out the Appendix to the Worker’s Claim that corresponds to your disease.
  • Accidents outside the province: The law applies to accidents that occur outside the province if you live in Quebec and the employer has premises in the province.


What to do after receiving compensation from the CNESST

Your rights and obligations don’t end after making your claim. There are specific situations that may affect you if you are unable to work after the accident:

  • You may be asked to undergo medical exams
  • Your medical situation may change


What to do if the CNESST or your employer requests additional medical exams

During your absence from work after the accident, the CNESST or your employer may ask you to undergo further medical exams.

We strongly advise you to acquiesce to the medical exams and follow the doctor’s recommendations. If you fail to do so, you may incur penalties on your compensation.


What to do if your medical situation changes

If your medical situation changes, you must inform the CNESST so that your file can be updated.

You must also tell your employer and the CNESST when you expect to be able to return to work.


What if you don’t agree with the CNESST’s decision?

If you wish to contest the CNESST’s decision, you have 30 days from the date you receive the decision to do so.

If you are unsatisfied with the new decision after going through the process, you have 45 days to contest it. This time, the Tribunal administratif du travail (TAT) will be responsible for rendering the decision.

If you haven’t been working with a lawyer, now is the time to do so. A professional can help you present your arguments to the CNESST in a way that gives you the best chance of success. Feel free to contact us to find out how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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