Thomas A. Robinson writes that significant attention has been given to the problem of employee fraud within the workers’ compensation context. Dishonest practices not only add to the overall cost of maintaining a workers’ compensation program for employers, they increase the level of citizen cynicism and undermine the levels of broad-based public support required to sustain the social contract that is at the heart of American workers’ compensation legislation. During the past ten to twenty years, there has been increasing pressure to penalize workers’ who attempt to collect benefits by exaggerated or fraudulent claims. Jurisdictions struggle in determining the appropriate penalties that are appropriate for these violations of public and private trust.
n a recent case of first impression from the Court of Appeals of Arizona (Division One, Department E), Obregon v. Industrial Comm’n of Ariz., 2008
Ariz. App. LEXIS 33 (February 28, 2008), the court held that the forfeiture imposed by A.R.S. § 23-1028(A) for making false statements to obtain workers’ compensation benefits applies only to those benefits obtained by the false statements; the forfeiture does not apply to any remaining benefits to which the worker might be entitled.
Robinson's expert commentary analyzes the case, compares the
Arizona result with recent cases from other jurisdictions, provides an overview regarding the types of misrepresentations and omissions that have been held sufficient to cause a forfeiture of workers’ compensation benefits, and observes that employee fraud will continue to preoccupy legislatures and courts within many jurisdictions.
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