When people talk about workers’ compensation fraud, they often assume that workers are the ones committing fraud. We’ve all heard about the person who claimed that they were unable to work because of an on-the-job injury, but were later spotted playing sports or doing construction on their home. Cases like this just give injured workers a bad name. The real truth about workers’ comp fraud is much more complicated.
Under Virginia law, every employer who regularly employs three or more full-time or part-time employees must purchase and maintain workers' compensation insurance. Under the law, workers are entitled to wage replacement, lifetime medical benefits, benefits for disability or impairment, death benefits, cost of living increases, or vocational rehabilitation depending on the nature and severity of their injury. Without adequate insurance, workers get shortchanged.
One form of workers’ comp fraud that isn’t often discussed is employer fraud. There are a variety of ways that employer defraud the workers’ comp system, and they all lead to more expensive insurance premiums and fewer benefits for workers:
· Misclassify workers. Some types of employees are less expensive to insure than others. Employers will lie about the job classification of high premium employees, like construction workers. Misclassification makes their workers’ comp insurance premiums less expensive.
· Underreport payroll. By underreporting the amount that a business spends on payroll, they can make it appear as though they have fewer employees, which again reduces their workers’ compensation insurance premiums.
· Deny treatment. Some employers try to save money on workers’ comp benefits by pressuring workers to not seek medical care for their workplace injuries.
· Downplay injuries. Employers will try to downplay the severity of a worker’s injury, either by trying to convince the worker that they aren’t really hurt or by putting pressure on healthcare workers to downplay the injuries.
· Doctor shop. Employers looking to downplay injuries or minimize medical treatment may deliberately seek out a doctor who will agree that the workers’ injury is no big deal. This is why it is so important for workers to see an independent doctor.
· First aid only. Another way that employers try to save money is by limiting the medical treatment offered to a worker to first aid only. This is because by law employers do not have to report injuries only requiring first aid to OSHA.
If you would like to talk to a skilled Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer, please contact the law offices of Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas. We would be happy to discuss your on-the-job injury clam with you and any challenges you may be facing for no cost or obligation.
DULANEY, LAUER & THOMAS, LLP
98 Alexandria Pike, Suite 11
Warrenton, VA 20186
Toll Free: 888.907.2631
209 N. West Street
Culpeper, VA 22701
Toll Free: 800.741.1012