At the beginning of every year, I enjoy seeing top ten lists of the previous year; top songs, top places to vacation, top moments in sports. One of the more interesting top ten lists I saw this year was a list of the Top Ten Workers’ Compensation Fraud Cases.
As an attorney who handles workers’ compensation, the first thing I often have to counsel my clients with is to tell them I believe them. So many injured workers are afraid of even filing for workers’ compensation because they’re afraid people will think they’re just bilking the system.
In truth, the vast, vast majority of workers who file for workers’ compensation are rightfully injured. They deserve the benefits that come with workers’ compensation. The system itself was set up to make sure workers injured on the job are covered while also preventing those workers from suing their companies for damages. Workers’ compensation benefits both parties and should always be available when workers need it.
So when the top ten list of workers’ comp fraud list comes out, I like to use it as a lesson for my clients, their families, for business owners, and even government officials. Why? Because out of these top ten fraud claims, nine were committed by a business entity – not a worker.
A medical equipment company fraudulently over-billed $36 million for medical equipment. A group of doctors, pharmacists and medical professionals were charged with a $25 million dollar workers’ compensation scam in California for allegedly giving kickbacks to doctors and submitting phony claims. A Lowe’s was accused of misclassifying 4000 of its employees as independent contractors and depriving them of benefits. Lowe’s ultimately settled this claim for $6.5 million.
This year, when people talk about workers’ compensation, let us all understand that nobody wants to be injured and have to collect these benefits. The vast majority of workers’ compensation cases are legitimate. And when thinking about workers’ comp fraud, remember that, in 2014, it was not the workers but the business owners who were bilking the system.
About the author: Karen Bilodeau is an attorney and partner at the workers’ rights law firm McTeague Higbee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 207-725-5581.