Insurance fraud is a serious problem in the workers' compensation system. Being committed by employers and employees alike, if workers' compensation fraud occurs and you're affected, you need an experienced workers' compensation attorney on your side. The following considers how employers in Missouri commit workers' compensation fraud and noncompliance, and steps to take next if you believe that you have been denied benefits to which you are entitled.
Misclassifying is one of the most common types of workers' compensation fraud that employers intentionally commit in order to avoid paying premiums. Because employers with more than four employees must carry workers' compensation insurance under Missouri law, an employer may try to shirk their duty to purchase workers' compensation by classifying employees as independent contractors. When an employer does this, they are denying workers the benefits to which they are rightfully entitled, and could be subject to an investigation and criminal penalties as such.
As explained by the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, another type of workers' compensation fraud that an employer may commit is that of making fraudulent statements with the intent to deny the injured worker benefits or discourage the injured worker from filing a claim. Doing so is a class A misdemeanor, and is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.An employer may also come under investigation, and be found guilty of insurance fraud, if they fail to fulfill their legal duty to report a worker's injury to the state's division of workers' compensation within 30 days.
Employers may commit workers' compensation noncompliance as a way to save money, knowingly failing to insure workers' compensation liability. This can be punished by up to $50,000, or three times the annual premium that the employer would have paid had the employer carried insurance. Insurer fraud, on the other hand, occurs when an insurance company intentionally and knowingly refuses to comply with workers' compensation requirements. Employees can also be found guilty of fraud. An employee commits workers' compensation fraud when they make a claim for workers' compensation benefits while knowing that they are not actually entitled to such benefits.
When an act of workers' compensation fraud is committed, the workers' compensation system becomes slightly more vulnerable. Workers who are victims of fraud may be unable to recover compensation and benefits to which they are legally entitled, and employers/insurers who are victims of fraud may start to distrust employees, scrutinizing future claims. At the The Law Firm of Webster & Carlton, our aggressive Missouri workers' compensation attorneys know that there is no room for fraudulent actions within the workers' compensation system. If you are an injured worker who believes that your employer has committed workers' compensation fraud, or you have been accused of fraud and have been denied benefits as such, we can help. Please contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.