When you sustain a workplace-related injury, California law requires that your employer compensate you for the injury. Known as workers’ compensation, your employer may be required to reimburse you for one or more of the following:
- Medical expenses;
- Two-thirds of your average monthly earning;
- Job retraining; and/or
- Living expenses while unable to work.
But as a Southern California woman recently learned, it can all be taken away – and then some – if it is discovered that your injuries were not as severe as you claimed.
Walking the Catwalk on an ‘Injured’ Leg
A young woman working at a Riverside grocery store received workers’ compensation in March of 2014 due to what she told her employer was a foot injury she sustained on the job. A grocery store clerk, the woman claimed she could neither walk nor put weight on the injured foot, making her unable to do her job. Her physician prescribed rest and elevation in response to her claims.
But after several months of receiving benefits, with no indication that she planned to return to work, online videos surfaced showing the woman walking the catwalk in at least two beauty pageants – in stilettos, no less. She was arrested and charged with fraud, and faces up to a year in jail and a $24,000 fine.
This is obviously an extreme case of workers’ compensation fraud, but it highlights the importance of not lying about, or exaggerating, your injuries (which should be a given but, as evidenced from this case, clearly is not). If you show no sign of recovery, or make no attempt to return to work, insurance investigators may become suspicious and look into your story. And as this young woman found out, the internet is forever.
But this does not mean that in order to receive workers’ compensation you must be laid up in the hospital or at your home, unable to do anything until you are capable of returning to work. The young woman in this case was given crutches by her doctor to help her get around, and if videos had surfaced of her limping along the catwalk on those crutches, she would not be under arrest for fraud right now.
Nor does it mean that you will face arrest on fraud charges if you do not recover. Some people, unfortunately, do not recover from their workplace injuries to the point that they are ever able to return to their former job. And while the insurance company may investigate these people to make sure their claims are valid, these individuals need not worry about fraud charges either. Provided your injuries are real, you will be entitled to continued benefits.
Walnut Creek Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you have been injured on the job, our team of knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys can help you get the benefits you deserve – and can advise you on what actions may terminate your benefits or, in the worst case scenario, result in charges of fraud. Even if your doctor clears you to return to work with restrictions, or if your employer is able to transfer you to another department or position that can accommodate your injury, you may still be entitled to benefits. If you need help obtaining benefits following a workplace injury, contact the Walnut Creek workers’ compensation attorneys at Appel Law Firm LLP today to schedule a consultation.