Man Pleads Guilty to False Workers Compensation Claim for Motorcycle Injury
Workers compensation has been a boon to many employees. If a person’s primary – and probably only – form of income is the physical labor he or she can perform, an injury can be crippling for financial wellbeing as well. To compensate, many states have set up workers compensation to provide for a temporary disabled worker so that the worker can still have income until he or she is back on their feet. However, there are some who would abuse this generosity for selfish ends.
Boone Block of Clyde Park, Montana, worked for the state Department of Transportation. Block filed for workers comp, claiming that he had hurt his right knee while jumping out of a work truck. The Montana State Fund approved temporary total disability payments of $30,000 to pay for Block’s wages and medical treatment. Investigators received anonymous tips which lead to the discovery that Block had been injured in a motorcycle accident outside of work. Boone Block has pleaded guilty. Block faces a three year suspended sentence and will pay a $3,000 fine.
Obtaining Workers Compensation
Workers compensation is obviously a life-saving benefit, as the benefit can pay for any medical bills acquired. As Block’s story shows though, if the employee abuses the system, it can backfire with significant damage to the employee. So are there any best practices to obtaining workers compensation without the shadow of fraud looming over the claim.
Check to See If Your Employer Is Covered
Not every employer is covered by workers compensation. Most states require an employer carry workers compensation if the employer has a certain number of employees. This number varies depending on the state – California requires that all employees be covered, while Georgia requires at least three employees before workers compensation is required – so check with an attorney first to determine if your employer is legally required to carry workers compensation.
One more note: the distinction between an independent contractor and an employee is very important if your state determines workers compensation based on the number of employees there are.
See a Doctor
Or better yet, see multiple doctors. Don’t worry about the cost; the workers compensation will put you back where you were before the accident – i.e. the cost of seeing these physicians will be covered. Blocks saw two doctors for his claim and it was approved, so this is a surefire way of affirming that you are indeed injured. The only mistake Blocks made was to lie to his doctors about how he was injured. That’s a no-no.
Broke your arm in a car accident while on a pizza delivery run? Crowbar pierced your leg while on the worksite? It might sound difficult, but try to obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses in the area. Not only will you need them to convince the state that you were injured on the job, but a credible witness will go a long way towards putting any investigation to rest. Even if you’re in no condition to go around collecting everyone’s names, you can ask a co-worker who was present to verify who was there.
There’s a difference between lying and being honest. It is possible to tell the truth without being honest. That’s not what happened with Block – he was just lying outright – but a lie by omission can harm your case just as much as an intentional lie. If you saw two doctors and one doctor said you were physically okay, you should disclose that doctor’s opinion to your attorney, even if the second doctor’s medical report is harmful to your case. Fraud is treated much more harshly, and scrutinized much further, in workers compensation cases than other types of cases.