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Los Angeles Employer Workers' Compensation Law Blog

California officer going to jail for workers' compensation fraud

Employers can not monitor their workers 24 hours a day. Even police officers have time off duty wherein they are free to live their lives as they so choose. What they or other workers are not free to do, however, is claim that they have been injured on the job in order to collect benefits when such details are untrue. Workers' compensation fraud is subject to prosecution in California and all other states. One police officer recently  learned that the hard way.

The officer claimed he injured his back in a traffic collision while on duty. The 28-year-old filed a workers' compensation claim related to the alleged incident in 2014. Afterward, he took periodic leaves of absence which he claimed were related to his case. 

Seeking assistance when an injured worker claim is suspicious

California workplaces are like all others in that, sometimes, mishaps occur on the job. In fact, there are certain industries that seem prone toward workplace accidents, such as construction or farming. Even in the average office space, it is not all that uncommon for an injured worker claim to be filed after an accident has occurred.

Problems may arise, however, if an employer suspects that a worker's claim is fraudulent. This has been known to happen on many occasions, sometimes actually leading to criminal prosecution, conviction and time behind bars for the worker who perpetrated fraud. Employee fraud threatens the bottom line of a business, and many employers worry that they will bear the brunt of it all by being forced to pay increased insurance premiums further down the line.

Workers' compensation fraud can go both ways

In California or any other state, willfully misrepresenting the details of a workplace injury is against the law. Classified as workers' compensation fraud, lying about a work injury is a serious matter that may be prosecuted in criminal court. On the other side of the fraud issue, however, it is also illegal for an employer to enter false data regarding payroll or employee classification.

Employers faced with employee fraud may be subjected to increased insurance premiums. Moreover, monies once available to offer higher wages to workers will be consumed by the process of fighting against the fraud. It is a no-win situation that can take a drastic toll on the bottom line. However, rectifying such situations is often possible. Typically, a first step in doing so often involves contacting a law office.

Man could spend a decade in prison for employee fraud

Many married couples share vehicles, bank accounts, and even income. While such practices may be typical in California and elsewhere, there are certain actions that may be unethical and illegal. For instance, it is never okay to use one's spouse's Social Security Number to collect income; this would be considered employee fraud.

A man in another state may be learning this lesson the hard way. In fact, he now faces up to 10 years behind bars for collecting benefits to which he was not entitled. Authorities say he collected as much as $450K over the course of many years.

Bartender gets probation for workers' compensation fraud

There are most likely many people in California and elsewhere who make their livings tending bar. Hopefully, none of them are doing so while lying to the state about past work injuries and false unemployment. Workers' compensation fraud is illegal; in fact, one man in another state was recently put on probation after being caught in a fraudulent scheme.

The now 57-year-old man initially began collecting benefits after filing a claim in which he stated he had been injured on the job in his work at a grocery store. That incident occurred in 1994; since then, he has repeatedly told the state he remained unemployed, even though that was not true. Since approximately 2013, he has been working as a bartender while continuing to collect benefits.

Facing employee fraud head-on in California

California employers are at risk for increased premiums when workers claim benefits to which they are not entitled. Employee fraud is problematic in many companies. It exists in many forms, and astute employers are sometimes able to stop it in its tracks before too much damage is done.

In this state and elsewhere throughout the nation, many employers have been defrauded when workers make false claims regarding injuries that allegedly occurred on the job. In some situations, an employee may indeed have a legitimate need to file a claim because of an accident resulting in injury. However, if that worker exaggerates the severity of the injury or claims to be unable to return to work, then collects benefits while secretly working somewhere else, it is a problem.

Putting a halt to employee fraud in California

The last thing a California employer needs is to be taken for a ride by a worker filing a false injury claim. Employee fraud is a huge problem in many areas. Employers will want to arm themselves against such illicit behaviors by staying updated on state and federal laws, as well as maintaining close monitoring of the workplace.

One of the most common types of fraud against employers includes claiming an injury took place at work, when in fact, it did not. There have also been many incidents where workers greatly exaggerate the severity of their injuries in order to "milk" the system and collect benefits to which they may not, otherwise, be entitled. Employers will want to keep careful track of workers' stories to compare the details to any witness testimony or medical reports to make sure all accounts align.

Alert employers can often spot workers' compensation fraud

California employers are responsible for a great number of things on any given day in their workplaces. Many employers need to stay on top of their games to prevent certain problems, such as workers' compensation fraud. When a worker files a false injury claim, or otherwise tries to defraud the system, it can have a negative effect on the whole company.

There are certain things employers can do to remain alert to spot suspicious claims before any real damage is done. For instance, if an employee claims an injury occurred in the workplace but no witnesses can substantiate the claim, an employer may want to further investigate the matter. Especially, in workrooms that are typically full of co-workers, it would raise a red flag if no one saw their fellow worker get hurt.

Uninsured employers in California may relate to farmers' problems

Employers in California and elsewhere are typically obligated to purchase insurance meant to provide benefits to workers who are injured on the job. When a worker gets hurt and files a claim, the benefits received can help replace lost wages (if an injury has rendered the person unable to work) and can also help alleviate financial debt associated with medical bills and other treatments. Many uninsured employers run into problems, as evident in a recent ongoing issue concerning farmers---especially, those on family-run farms.

Some say farmers whose workers are mostly comprised of family members should not have to purchase workers' comp insurance. A senator in another state where the issue is currently being debated said that it is not likely that employers on small farms will be exempt from the obligation to purchase insurance for injured workers. However, the senator said it may indeed be possible to come up with a plan that lowers the cost of insurance for small-producing farms.

Man who filed injured worker claim caught defrauding the system

Employers are obligated to purchase insurance that provides compensation benefits to injured workers. When someone is hurt on the job and files an injured worker claim, the benefits received can help cover the cost of medical bills and also replace lost wages. However, when someone in California defrauds the system, it can have a negative affect on both other workers and employers alike.

A man in another state recently pleaded guilty to just such an offense. He had reportedly been collecting benefits from a state agency. A tip was received, which prompted the agency to enlist the assistance of the Special Investigations Department. An investigation led officials to believe that the man was secretly working at another job while continuing to collect compensation benefits.

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