During the course of a New York State Workers’ Compensation claim, claimants are often asked to complete questionnaire forms and give sworn testimony at hearings. Answering simple questions seems harmless, but in fact, it’s not.
The Workers’ Compensation insurance company and Law Judge can, and have, turned a less than perfect memory into a criminal case against innocent claimants.
In my practice, a person that I consider extremely honest and forthright has lost all claims to indemnity benefits because the Law Judge ruled that her sworn testimony was inaccurate. The issue pertained to whether or not this person had a prior injury to a certain body part. The claimant did not recall having prior treatment but the insurance carrier had secured medical records indicating that there was minor treatment years ago.
Because the claimant denied prior treatment the Law Judge ruled that her statement was purposely false and ruled that she had violated the fraud portion of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law. The Judge further ruled that this disqualified my client from all future lost wage benefits. While an appeal is pending, this result is horrific.
None of us can remember each and every doctor visit we have attended. The moral of the story is to always couch your answers if you are not 100% sure, so that they cannot be used against you. If someone is not sure of an answer, he or she should respond “I can not recall or I am not sure.”
Completing forms and giving testimony in a New York State Workers’ Compensation case can be trickier than you think. If you have questions about your claim, please feel free to contact our office.