North Dakota: WSI Need Not Prove Intent to Defraud in Order to Justify Forfeiture of Benefits

North Dakota: WSI Need Not Prove Intent to Defraud in Order to Justify Forfeiture of Benefits

A North Dakota district court committed error when, in relevant part, it affirmed an ALJ’s finding that claimant’s false statements as to his income and work activities were not willful and were instead “inadvertent,” and not made with the intent to defraud. The state appellate court explained that, for purposes of N.D. Cent. Code § 65-05-33, the term “willfully" does not require an intent to defraud, but only requires proof that a false statement was made "intentionally" and "purposefully" in connection with a workers’ compensation claim or application. Moreover, there was no exception where the “work” was assisting a family member on various projects. “Work” necessarily included claimant's physical and mental efforts in running a business, even if on a short-term basis. Accordingly, where the claimant “assisted” his brother on projects completed by claimant’s construction business and claimant’s brother received the income, the failure, on the part of claimant, to advise Workforce Safety & Insurance of those activities could have been the sort of misrepresentation that justified forfeiture of benefits. The case was remanded for further findings consistent with the statute.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Welch v. Workforce Safety & Ins., 2017 ND 210, 2017 N.D. LEXIS 212 (Aug. 29, 2017)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 39.02.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law