NPR and ProPublica found that nearly 800 undocumented workers in Florida have been charged with workers’ comp fraud for using illicit Social Security numbers to either get their jobs, file for workers’ compensation benefits or both. More than 560 didn’t actually file workers’ comp claims but still were charged with fraud. Another 130 suffered legitimate workplace injuries but were denied benefits and prosecuted. Some were detained by federal immigration authorities and deported. Like most states, Florida provides workers’ comp benefits to undocumented workers despite their legal status. The state’s workers’ comp law was amended in 2003 to make the use of false identification in obtaining jobs and workers’ comp benefits a felony.
The second-highest ranking member of the Florida Senate, Anitere Flores, pledged a legislative review of a state law that employers and insurance companies are using to have injured undocumented workers arrested and potentially deported to avoid paying them workers’ compensation benefits. Flores said she is especially concerned about companies who may hire undocumented workers knowing that the threat of prosecution and deportation may keep them from pursuing workers’ comp claims if they are injured at work.
Flores spoke in response to a recent NPR and ProPublica investigation and a subsequent statement by the nation’s largest insurance fraud group, which called on Florida lawmakers to change the law. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud said employers and insurance companies are applying the law in ways that place “the credibility of combating real fraud at risk.” “Legislators in the Sunshine State need to correct this loophole so workers hurt on the job get the care they need,” said Dennis Jay, executive director of the coalition, which is made up of insurance companies, government agencies, consumer organizations and insurance fraud investigators. “I just see the credibility of the anti-fraud effort being hurt by such practices,” Jay said in an interview.
Such practice is absolutely absurd and inhumane. Despite any circumstances, a worker who is injured at work is entitled to sufficient care at all costs. In my fifteen years of practice, it is my goal to make sure that all of our injured workers promptly and efficiently, receive his/her indemnity benefits and necessary medical treatment. So if you or a family member have been hurt at work and have any issues with promptly receiving indemnity benefits or medical treatment, call Poirier Law today for a free consultation. The Poirier Law Firm has represented injured workers for over 16 years. You deserve to have a zealous advocate in your corner!