How Workers’ Compensation Fraud Complicates The System
In a shocking video caught on a security camera at a Fort Lauderdale office, an employee picks up a sprinkler head and hits herself in the face with it, causing her own facial injuries. Why would she do this? It’s a great example of workers’ compensation fraud.
What is Workers’ Compensation Fraud?
Workers’ compensation fraud occurs when an employee fakes or exaggerates an injury in order to claim benefits. It may occur when:
- An injury occurs outside of work, but the employee claims that it happened within the capacity of their job. For example, a worker sprains their ankle while walking home from the bar over the weekend, but pretends that the injury occurs when they fall at work on Monday.
- A worker inflates an injury. If a worker simply bruises their wrist while lifting a heavy box, but claims they have a permanent injury, they might be inflating their injury. If they do receive workers’ compensation for an injury, they might draw out their healing process, and insist they cannot work even when they have fully recovered, therefore drawing out their benefits.
- An old injury is passed off as an on-the-job injury. In this case, the injury might actually be very real, but didn’t actually happen on the job.
When employees do things like this, their lies can have serious consequences. The lying employee, of course, runs the risk of getting fired or ordered to pay back their benefits. For their fellow employees, the consequences can be even worse. When coworkers fake their injuries, they might face higher premiums, or see changes to their company’s workers’ compensation program. Plus, there’s the age-old idea of “crying wolf.” If one employee gets caught lying about their injury, an employee might be less likely to believe the claims of an employee who is actually injured.
There are many red flags that may signify a fake injury, including:
- An injury that occurs at the end of the day on a Friday or on a Monday
- There were no witnesses to the injury
- The employee consistently changes their story about how the injury occurred
- There was a delay in reporting the injury
- The worker refuses diagnostic tests
Of course, it’s important to always consider any workplace injury. Every situation is unique, and an injured employee should not be dismissed without careful consideration of their injuries and situation.
Employees aren’t the only ones who commit workers’ compensation fraud, either. Employers can also be guilty, and the results can be devastating. There are a few ways employers can commit fraud:
- Claiming that jobs are safer than they really are, or intentionally misclassifying workers; for example, saying someone is working as a secretary in a front office when they are really operating heavy machinery
- Falsely claiming that they have fewer employees or a lower payroll, so that they do not have to pay as much coverage
- Avoiding purchasing coverage entirely
When an employer is dishonest about their workers’ compensation benefits, they hurt everyone. They should be looking out for their employees. This includes preventing injuries and providing compensation when accidental injuries occur.
Workers’ compensation is critical for injured workers, and fraud can complicate the situation for everyone!
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.