By Tricia Leslie - Staff
A Vancouver lawyer believes
an injured Abbotsford trucker would still be alive today if WorkSafeBC
[formerly the Workers' Compensation Board] had treated him better.
Lawyer Craig Paterson last
saw 39-year-old Bhupinder Singh Kang on Feb. 7, when he attended an initial
vocational assessment meeting with him - a meeting Paterson described as a
"I'm convinced he killed
himself to prove he's disabled," Paterson said Monday of Kang, who was found
dead of an apparent suicide on the floor of his Abbotsford home just hours
after the Tuesday meeting. "The WCB has treated him as a cheater and a liar
since he was badly injured in a truck accident in 1998 . . . I'm filing a
complete report to the Abbotsford police and I'm asking them to investigate
this as a criminal matter."
Paterson said he is also
asking B.C. chief coroner Terry Smith to conduct an inquiry into Kang's death,
and he is asking WorkSafeBC for an apology.
Paterson says Kang's mental
and physical health deteriorated rapidly after the 1998 truck accident, which
left Kang with fractures to the neck, an injured shoulder and head injuries.
Paterson says Kang received WCB benefits until August of 2000, when they were
He was hired by Kang in
2003, Paterson said, and added the board eventually accepted Kang's claim, but
his benefits did not resume. Apparently there was a disagreement about whether
Kang was willing to participate in programs suggested by the board.
According to the Vancouver
Sun, the WorkSafeBC board even had surveillance conducted on Kang and
determined "the evidence didn't show that he was able to do anything more than
what was being stated already."
"I think we have to stop
[WorkSafeBC] from operating the way it does," Paterson said, likening the
Tuesday meeting room to a police interrogation cell. "They treat people as
cheaters and liars and do covert surveillance on thousands of British
Columbians - there's no rules on that."
Paterson was also angered
over "a flurry of letters" filled with "legalese" WorkSafeBC sent Kang -
without also sending them to himself, Kang's attorney of record.
Kang's brother, Jaspal, was
understandably emotional about his brother's death.
"It has been frustrating,"
he said. "We came back from the meeting, I picked up my daughter from school,
then I came back and he was lying on the kitchen floor, unconscious," he
recalled, adding his brother had been depressed and suicidal at times, since
the truck accident.
"I called the ambulance . .
.," he said, then broke off, crying softly.
"I want to see these people
[WorkSafeBC] punished. They're the reason my brother died."
WorkSafeBC spokeswoman Donna
Freeman noted "the coroner has yet to determine the cause" of Kang's death and
said a review will be conducted.
"We would do that with any
case where we might wonder if everything had been done . . . if we could have
prevented something," she said.
She noted it's a tragic case
and sent her condolences to the family, but emphasized Kang's benefits "were
not cut off, they were suspended."
"That is required by law,"
Freeman said. "To attribute this individual's very tragic mental state to a few
letters is ridiculous."
Kang's funeral is set for 11
a.m. on Sunday at Riverside Funeral Home in Delta.
02/14/2006 Abbotsford Times