Since we represent so many injured employees in Atlanta workers' compensation cases, we are used to answering certain questions like, "Who will pay my medical bills? How much temporary disability can I draw? What will happen if I can't go back to work due to my injury?"
Another question that we hear a lot is, "Is it legal for me to say my injury was not work-related? My boss told me to say this, and I don't know what to do." The answer to this question is a very resounding, "NO!" Not only do you compromise your right to receive the compensation to which you are entitled, but also you could be implicated for criminal fraud.
Georgia Workers' Compensation Law Requires That a Report Be Made
Georgia law requires that a person who has been hurt on the job make a prompt report of his or her injury. Failing to make this report in a timely fashion can result in forfeiture of the worker's right to workers' compensation benefits - regardless of the seriousness of his or her injury. (This is true even if the employee is so severely injured that he or she is never able to work again.)
The required form for reporting a work-related injury is called a WC-14, and it is to be filed with the State Board of Workers' Compensation. Copies of the form are also to be sent to the employer and its workers' compensation insurance carrier. The form asks for certain basic information, including the date of the accident and the part of the worker's body that was hurt.
If a worker tries to say that a work-related injury happened somewhere other than on the job, the only way that he or she will receive medical care is to either self-pay or attempt to use his or her health insurance. Making a false statement in order to receive benefits under a policy of insurance, including health insurance, is a felony in Georgia. Those convicted of insurance fraud face imprisonment of between two and 10 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000 and other penalties.
Why Would an Employer Ask You to Lie?
There are many reasons. If your boss is not the owner of the company, he may be worried about losing his job if he was in some way responsible for your injury. For example, if a supervisor encourages you to disregard a safety rule, and then you get hurt, this could be a basis for the company to terminate their employment. If the boss is the owner of the company, he may ask you to say the injury was not work-related because he does not have workers' compensation insurance and is afraid of getting in trouble for not complying with the law. Maybe the owner has insurance but is concerned about a premium hike because of another injury.
It could also be that the boss is deliberately trying to sabotage your claim. If you say the injury is not work-related, you will have a very hard time getting compensation if you change your story later. Statements that you make to medical providers can become part of the evidence in a workers' compensation case later. Administrative law judges frown on inconsistent statements, and your credibility may be called into question if you give different accounts of how you were hurt.
Honesty has always been the best policy, but this is especially true nowadays. With video surveillance growing more commonplace and many people walking around with a handy recording device (aka "smart phone") in their pocket, the truth has a way of coming out sooner or later.
Talk to an Atlanta Workers' Compensation Lawyer About Your Claim
If you have been hurt at work, and someone has asked you to say your injury was not work-related, you need to talk to an attorney immediately. Anyone who would ask you to be dishonest with regard to a work injury claim does not have your best interests at heart. You need an attorney who will protect your legal rights and help you fight for the compensation you are due. Experienced Atlanta workers' compensation attorney T. Andrew Miller is here to help. Call us at 678-894-4758 to schedule a free consultation. Do not delay in making this important call, since there are important deadlines in work-related injury cases, and failing to take timely legal action can result in the denial of your claim.