A husband and wife who had retired from working as police officers have been accused of workers’ compensation fraud for faking injuries and collecting benefits.
Married Couple Accused of Workers’ Compensation Fraud
The situation unfolded in Santa Clara, California. A husband and wife – both of whom worked as police officers in the area – had both retired from the force after suffering injuries. Both spouses had claimed that they had been hurt on the job in October, 2015, and could not work as police officers in any capacity. They both received doctor’s notes that claimed they had suffered permanent total disabilities and went on disability leave from the force, receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
A subsequent investigation, however, found them engaging in normal activity that contradicted their claims. Investigators first became suspicious of the wife’s workers’ compensation claims when they learned that she was competing in bodybuilding competitions. They interviewed her at a coffee shop, where she claimed that she could not move well on her own and suffered chronic pain. Her husband even drove her to the interview and helped her walk around the store.
Both before and after the interview, though, investigators had recorded video of her doing nearly daily bodybuilding workouts at the gym.
She was charged with workers’ compensation fraud and pleaded no contest in July, 2019, and was ordered to pay restitution and was put on probation. It was only after her case that investigators realized the video recordings made at the gym also caught her husband working out, as well. He has also been charged with workers’ compensation fraud.
Why Embellishing Symptoms Can Undercut a Workers’ Compensation Claim
People who have actually been hurt on the job and who truly deserve workers’ compensation frequently feel the urge to embellish their symptoms. In many cases, they do this out of fear that their legitimate claim for compensation will be denied.
Typically, doctors will be able to see through the embellishments, though, especially if they are provided by employers or parties who have an interest in challenging the workers’ compensation claim. When these doctors think that a patient is overplaying their symptoms, they can become suspicious and begin to doubt all of the patient’s claims – even the truthful ones.
The result can actually undercut the victim’s workers’ compensation claim. Credibility is a huge component in workers’ compensation cases, and the doctor’s expert testimony frequently determines whether a claim is successful or not. Even when a victim of a workplace accident is not completely fabricating their symptoms – as seems to be the case of these California police officers – it can still undermine their case if a doctor thinks that they are exaggerating them.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
If you have been hurt while on the job, you deserve workers’ compensation. The personal injury attorneys at the Smith Law Office can help you get what you deserve. Call their law office in St. Joseph, Missouri, at (816) 875-9373 or contact them online.