The world seems to have more than its fair share of people willing to lie and cheat in order to gain a few extra bucks. Workers’ compensation claims have always been a prime target for the less-than-honest employees in the population. This list of incredible workers’ compensation claims should give employers a heads up on potential fraud in their companies as well as offer a warning to potential fraudulent employees. I should warn you that some of these stories may cause a few head scratches as you wonder how on earth compensation was ever awarded.
Today’s new work-from-home environment has opened up many new workplace hazards, hazards that the employer really has no control over. If, for example, an employee trips over a buckle in his own home carpeting, falls and cracks his elbow on his desk, what control could his employer have had over the hazard that caused the accident? It seems, though, that the lines are rather blurry between normal home accidents and accidents claimable under workers’ compensation.
Let’s look at the true story of a work-from-home employee in Oregon who tripped over her own dog while walking to retrieve some work supplies in another area of her home. Oregon’s workers’ compensation board refused the claim, stating that the employer had no control over the woman’s home environment and that the risk posed by her dog was the same whether she was working or not. The woman was not content with the ruling and took the case to the appellate court, who actually ruled in her favor. Why? Although the employer did not have control over her home environment, he did have control over where she worked. If she had been working at her place of employment, the accident could have been averted.
Running on Heels
Have you ever tried to run in high heels? How about running in heels with a debilitating ankle injury? A high school custodian in California was evidently doing just that – or so she claimed. The custodian claimed a severe ankle injury in 2009 and said that she could not walk. Video surveillance recorded her entering a doctor’s office on crutches but later also caught her running in high heels through a park, where she met her boyfriend and performed various lewd acts. She was taken to court and charged with 10 counts of insurance fraud.
Unable to Work?
A classic fraud case was reported in Ohio in October, 2012. In this case, the person in question was drawing compensation benefits for a previous on-the-job injury when he was caught on video running a curbing and landscaping business, doing physical labor in both roofing and landscaping and acting as a sales rep at home and garden shows. He was busted and sentenced.
Another classic fraud case can be found on the Workers’ Compensation Fund website. A man who was a hang glider test pilot incurred a legitimate on-the-job injury involving a dislocated shoulder. However, what happened next was a little less legitimate. Two years after the accident, after many allegedly unsuccessful treatment attempts by doctors, the man was caught on tape parasailing off of cliffs in California. He was ordered back to the job and pled guilty to workers’ compensation fraud.
Guest Author: Jon Reiter is a marketing agent for Michael P. Dominick an experienced Boulder workers compensation lawyer.