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Firefighter accused of false injured worker claim

Suspecting an employee of fraudulent activity regarding his or her injured worker claim can put a California employer in a difficult position. A man who worked as a firefighter and paramedic was recently discharged from his position due to purportedly exaggerating an injured worker claim. Court records outline that the accusation and loss of position were directly linked to a series of investigations and to being criminally charged.

The man experienced an injury that hurt his ankle while on the job and is accused of inflating the seriousness of the injury to receive added workers compensation benefits. The man was charged with a third-degree workers' compensation fraud felony, though reports indicate he is claiming to be innocent. Investigation reports reveal that the firefighter continued to collect a salary while on disability leave for almost a month due to an inability to perform light duties, claiming that the pain was too severe. The man was paid over $4,000 during his absence from work.

The alleged dishonesty was discovered when the man was seen and video recorded during the time of the investigation walking without hindrance in sandals and without his assigned treatment cast. Following the collection of evidence, the town reported their findings to the state insurance division and a criminal investigation was opened. Once criminally charged, the town's internal investigation was started and they discovered potentially false statements made by the man in his injured worker claim. In addition to being accused of false statements, he is also accused of using his cast and crutches when seen by a physician and not daily as directed.

The department further accuses the former employee of conducting himself in an inappropriate manner by disrespecting department regulations and creating false statements and facts to gain monetarily. A California employer who discovers a false or inflated injured worker claim may choose to pursue an investigation against their worker. A business owner may choose to seek help in protecting company assets and government benefits from abuse.

Source: palmbeachdailynews.com, Town fires firefighter facing fraud charge, Michele Dargan, Feb. 14th, 2014

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