As a California employer, having an employee sustain a minor, serious or fatal injury on the job may be at the top of your list of things you never want to happen. Sometimes, though, accidents do occur. In these cases, your workers’ compensation insurance should provide benefits for an employee’s medical costs and some of the lost wages, regardless of whether it was a working condition that caused the injury, or the employee’s own negligence or carelessness. However, at Sacks & Zolonz, LLP, we understand that there are times when dishonest employees make false claims in an attempt to hold the employer liable beyond what is covered by workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation fraud costs everyone in California money. However, employers are usually the first victims of this crime. According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, there is a small number of people who actually try to scam the workers’ compensation system, but even a small number of fraudulent claims can create a huge expense. The cost of fraud includes a loss of jobs and pay, more expensive premium costs, closure of businesses and higher prices for consumers.
Before modern workers’ compensation laws were implemented, employees who were injured on the job had to sue the business owners if they wanted to receive any support or compensation. While current California laws force employers to provide insurance for onsite accidents that result in injuries, changes have also been made to reduce the ability of others to enter into a lawsuit over the incident.
Most employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance in order to support and protect their employees in case of injury or illness that occurs on the job. Some do this with an official policy or as part of their regular business insurance. Others set aside an account in order to self insure against whatever might happen. In most cases, employees don't file a claim unless they are actually hurt on the job, but there are exceptions. Some employees get hurt, but the injury isn't a result of what they do at work. Others might take a very minor injury and attempt to make it look as if it causes them more pain and suffering than it actually does in order to get a worker's compensation settlement, which is more than what they deserve. Like other forms of insurance, the more it is utilized, the more premiums rise. For a small business that operates on a tight budget, this can seriously impact their ability to expand. In many cases it can mean the difference between staying in operation or not.
As the recent election proved and as others have proven in the past, states are entities with minds of their own. So when there is a seemingly national trend, there are still those states that stand out as different and notable in regards to certain matters. California tends to stand out for various reasons.
Today's society provides a sense that business can be the big bad wolf. But that is simply not true. Businesses keep an economy strong. They keep people employed and able to support their families. The strength of corporate America can symbolize an overall strength of the country.
Marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, and the passage of Prop 64 by California voters will not change that. Nevertheless, the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes is likely to remove some of the stigma around weed in general, which may make doctors more open to its use in conditions that aren't currently on the list.
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.
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.
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.