You need to be very careful and particular when filling out any forms related to workers’ compensation. If you are perceived to have falsified information on a workers’ comp form to collect benefits, then you could be accused of a criminal violation. Depending on the alleged falsifications, you could face both criminal and civil penalties, which are often based on a per-violation system. The more times you allegedly committed an act of workers’ compensation fraud, the worse your potential penalties can be.
Penalties for Falsifying a Workers’ Comp Claim
Penalties can be issued to employees, employers, coworkers, lawyers, and medical staff who misrepresent any element of a workers’ compensation case for any reason. Faking an injury is an obvious violation, but individuals can also face consequences for presenting an off-the-job injury as work-related, exaggerating the injury, failure to return to work after healing, or lying about the treatment that the employee required.
Every state decides how it wants to penalize workers’ compensation claim fraud. Here in the state of Georgia, employees who are found guilty of falsifying information in relation to their workers’ compensation case can be penalized through fines and imprisonment.
In Georgia, sentencing for workers’ comp fraud can include:
- $1,000 to $10,000 in fines per violation
- Up to 1 year in prison
The defendant’s criminal record can also play a factor in the court-assigned penalties for workers’ compensation fraud. For example, people who have been convicted of the same crime or a similar fraud-based violation in the past could be sentenced to longer imprisonment.
Is Making a Mistake Illegal?
Many people who are accused of workers’ compensation fraud are completely blindsided by the accusation because they never intended to do anything wrong. The truth is that making an honest mistake on your workers’ compensation claim can be enough to warrant an investigation if that mistake influences the outcome of your claim in a way that benefits you. Depending on what investigators find, they might determine that you were attempting workers’ comp fraud and move to file charges, even though this was not your intention at all.
You might know that you made a mistake, but no one else does. You will have to prove it in court that there was no criminal or deliberate intent behind your actions.
Penalties for Wrongfully Denying a Workers’ Comp Claim
Injured workers are not the only parties who need to be careful when filling out a workers’ compensation claim. Employers and insurance providers can also be held accountable if they falsify information on a claim, which usually happens if they want to wrongfully deny the claim. As with claimant violations, employers and insurers face the same potential civil and criminal penalties, including 1-year imprisonment and up to $10,000 fines per violation.
Additionally, every state but Texas requires employers to purchase adequate workers’ compensation insurance based on their company size and the employees they have on staff. Failing to buy and provide necessary workers’ comp coverage to employees is unlawful in some states and illegal in others. In Georgia, an employer who does not provide correct workers’ comp to all eligible employees can be fined up to $5,000 per violation and be charged with a misdemeanor. A conviction for the misdemeanor will be followed by more penalties, such as fines paid to the state, loss of certain licenses or certifications, and jail time.
How Can You Avoid Workers’ Comp Claim Mistakes?
If making a single error on your workers’ compensation claim can land you in prison, then it is pretty clear that filing a claim is not something to be taken lightly. When you are feeling nervous about completing a form as accurately as possible, it might be time to get a workers’ compensation lawyer on your side. With an attorney handling your case on your behalf, you can be confident that all information will be filled out correctly and without worry that a mistake could land you in legal trouble.
The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia is standing by to help with your workers’ compensation claim. Send us your information or call (770) 629-9321 to schedule a free case evaluation with our team of attorneys. We proudly offer our services in multiple languages, including Spanish, English, Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian.