Every year, some three million Americans get hurt at work, according to OSHA. Some of the most severe problems will cause individuals to hire workers compensation attorneys who can help make sure they receive the proper financial benefits. Workers comp is a great resource because it prevents workplace injuries from causing financial distress at home when time is missed. Though lawyers often have to get involved because the process can be so complex and the rules vary from state to state, it allows people to be able to focus on getting healthy, rather than worry about paying bills. But, unfortunately, there are lots of people who abuse the system and apply for (and often receive) benefits that they do not deserve.
Last week, in Georgia, a 41-year-old woman plead guilty to doing exactly that. Loretta Smith, was accused by prosecutors of stealing more than $460,000 worth of Veterans Affairs benefits by making fraudulent workers comp claims. According to prosecutors, she claimed costs for travel she never made and treatments that she never actually received while employed by the VA. Even with the guilty plea, Smith faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
While many cases of workers comp fraud are committed by people who say they got hurt at work and make false claims, there are many employers on the other side of the fence who do not make the proper payments. For instance, a landscaping company owner in Washington was charged with not paying an employee who got hurt on the job. The victim said that he had lost more than $67,000 in medical expenses and lost wages, and his employer failed to pay premiums. The owner faces Class C felony charges that come with up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Fraud and workers compensation often go hand-in-hand, and both workers and their employers are guilty of not handling situations properly. As a result, workers comp lawyers are often needed to look out for the best interests of both people who get hurt at work and the businesses or agencies that they might be trying to rip off. While that need might be troubling to some, they play a valuable role in making sure workers comp is readily available to those who need it and go through the proper steps to receive it. For more about this, go here.