Workers’ compensation insurance benefits were designed as a way for employees to seek compensation for on-the-job injuries without having to prove that their employer was responsible for the injury. While the program has been successful overall, there are those who take advantage of the system by committing fraud. If you have been accused of this serious crime, contact a top San Diego workers’ comp fraud attorney as soon as possible.
Examples of Workers’ Compensation Fraud
There are many ways people commit workers’ comp fraud, which can range from a simple, single person fraud to a multi-level operation that involves many people. The most frequent type of workers’ compensation fraud occurs when a person pretends to be injured at work, usually with a type of employee injury that is hard to prove because it is based solely on a person’s word that they feel pain -such as a non-herniated back injury.
Sometimes the person will have a real, albeit minor, injury that would not normally warrant medical care, but they exaggerate it in order to stay out of work. Alternatively, some people suffer real injuries, but they falsely claim the injury occurred at work when they were actually injured doing something on their own time. Some people are even so focused on getting workers’ compensation that they even will purposefully injure themselves at work, which is still considered fraud even though the injury is, real, new and did actually occur on the job.
In the most elaborate cases, doctors and workers’s compensation attorneys may all be involved in the scheme, receiving part of the cut from the “injury victim” in exchange for helping him or her file false or exaggerated medical claims.
It’s worth mentioning that employers are also commonly charged in San Diego with failure to maintain workers’ compensation benefits for their employees. Business owners sometimes treat employees as independent contractors when these definitions are quite narrow. The civil and criminal fines for employer failure to have workers compensation are quite large and include heavy penalty assessments.
These Cases Should Not be Taken Lightly
It’s important to recognize that California takes workers’ compensation fraud very seriously as it costs employers in the state up to $3 billion every year. This is why the the California Department of Insurance as well as local district attorneys thoroughly investigate these crimes and urge the public to report anyone they suspect of committing this crime. In fact, around 1,400 cases involving 1,600 suspects may be processed in a single year and evidence may include photos and videos documenting a suspect performing activities incongruent with their stated injuries.
If you have been accused of committing workers’ comp fraud in San Diego, you could face up to five years in prison, plus heavy fines and mandatory restitution to the company. You may also lose any professional certificates you have to operate in your chosen field, drastically limiting your future career prospects.
Fighting Workers’ Comp Fraud Charges
The good news is that it is possible to fight these charges, provided you have the right San Diego workers’ comp fraud lawyer on your side. Defenses will vary drastically depending on the specifics of your crime, which is why it is so important to refuse to speak to the police without your attorney present or you may say something that could hurt your case.
If you have been accused of defrauding your employer’s workers’ compensation program or believe you are under investigation for this crime, please call criminal defense attorney Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050. He has over 35 years of experience fighting white collar crime charges just like these in and out of court and he can help you too.
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