Three workers at a metal fabrication plant were recently charged in a criminal court for workers' compensation fraud.
While this incident happened in another state, Arizona workers should recognize that Arizona authorities also will not tolerate true cases of workers' compensation fraud. However, the threat of a fraud charge should not deter those who were legitimately hurt as a result of a workplace accident from filing a workers' compensation claim.
In this case, three workers filed workers' comp claims alleging that they had suffered workplace injuries in connection with an explosion in their factory. Specifically, they alleged that a leaky welding torch caused a fire and left them all suffering from burns on their faces.
However, further investigation revealed that the three men had apparently been outside of the factory on a break playing with explosives when their injuries occurred. Prosecutors now allege that the men suffered the burns after one of their games went terribly wrong, and that the men then lied about the cause of their injuries when filing their workers' comp claims.
Certainly, it always pays to be honest when making a workers' compensation claim; not answering questions truthfully can get an Arizona worker into serious legal trouble, including a criminal prosecution. On the other hand, this does not necessarily mean that a worker has to volunteer deeply personal but unrelated information that he or she may want to keep secret.
More importantly, while Arizona workers should be aware of their obligations to tell the truth, they should not allow the specter of a fraud accusation to deter them from filing a workers' compensation claim in good faith. There are always two sides to every story, and legitimate differences of opinion as to what happened and why emerge all the time; no one should worry about "fraud" in such instances.
Source: The Oklahoman, "Burned workers in Tulsa are charged with workers' comp fraud," Nolan Clay, March 29, 2013