There’s an insurance industry radio ad campaign currently running, containing the following warning: Don’t commit Workers’ Comp insurance fraud or you’ll end up in jail and you will shame your family. It’s clearly aimed at injured workers. I get it.
What the public generally does NOT see is the other side of the coin…when insurance companies overstep their bounds and infringe on injured workers’ rights (happens all the time—sometimes with bad results, especially when injured workers are unrepresented .)
This happened to my client and me YESTERDAY:
My client, a nurse’s aide, was receiving weekly Workers’ Comp checks for a severe back injury (she now needs surgery for it) that she incurred at work. At the last hearing, the insurance company attorney for the employer accused my client of fraud and told the Judge they were stopping her benefits because they have a private eye who followed her and videotaped her doing something bad (presumably, working while collecting comp checks.) They were ordered to produce the investigator and his evidence. My client flatly denied committing fraud. A mild-mannered woman, she has been beside herself with stress because of this fraud allegation. She could not understand it. Luckily, in this country, you get to face your accuser in court, face-to-face. At the next hearing (yesterday) , I made a simple request: call in both my client and the investigator into the courtroom and let the investigator look at my client, face-to-face. When they were called in, the Judge asked the private eye: “Is this the woman you have been following?” The investigator turned red. ” No, Your Honor, it isn’t, “we must have been following the wrong person.”
You simply can’t make this stuff up. I got my client’s benefits reinstated (she was crying with relief, she could not understand what she had done wrong) but unfortunately there is no penalty against an insurance company for such shoddy work and behavior……………
Call us if you have questions about Workers’ Comp or Social Security Disability benefits!
District Attorney, New York County
For Immediate Release March 25, 2014
DA VANCE: GRAND JURY RECOMMENDS SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO PREVENT WORKERS’ COMPENSATION INSURANCE FRAUD
Empanelled at Request of Manhattan DA’s Office, Grand Jury Finds Evidence of Workers’ Compensation Insurance Premium Fraud Costing New York Nearly $500 Million Annually
Report Released on 103rd Anniversary of Greenwich Village Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced that a New York State Supreme Court Grand Jury has issued a report examining the vulnerability of New York’s workers’ compensation insurance system to fraud and misuse. The Grand Jury’s report stemmed from investigations by the District Attorney’s Money Laundering and Tax Crimes Unit into false information provided to the New York State Insurance Fund in connection with applications for, and audits of, workers’ compensation policies.
Taking into account a June 2013 report of the Fiscal Policy Institute and other estimates, New York City’s construction industry in 2011 cost the City and State approximately $500 million based on worker misclassifications. The largest component of the loss was unpaid workers’ compensation premiums, with personal income tax, withholding, unemployment insurance, and various other business taxes accounting for the remainder.
Premium fraud affords wrongdoers an improper competitive advantage over all law-abiding businesses, makes workers vulnerable by depriving them of important protections and benefits, and deprives New York State and New York City of substantial revenue. Every lost dollar must be made up by a dollar increase somewhere else, usually by a cost-shifting phenomenon that affects us all. Every law-abiding employer is a victim of this criminal conduct, as is every hard-working employee, every consumer, and every honest taxpayer