A news story emerged out of Greenville, North Carolina this month about a postal worker who was convicted of workers’ compensation fraud in a claim she filed in 2011. According to the story, the worker represented that she was unable to “stand, sit, kneel, squat, climb, bend, reach or grasp” as a result of a work accident that took place in 2004. The only problem? She had appeared on an episode of the Price is Right in 2009 in which she is seen “spinning the big wheel” not once, but twice. In addition, she was reportedly seen zip-lining while on vacation with her husband in 2010, as well as carrying groceries with both arms in 2011 (presumably, this evidence was the result of some well-timed surveillance). The complete news story can be found here: http://myfox8.com/2013/06/04/nc-postal-carrier-convicted-of-fraud-after-price-is-right-appearance/
So what lessons can be learned from this story? For starters, we may all need to start scouring daytime television game shows to look for the claimant in our workers’ compensation claims. But more importantly, it shows the importance of conducting surveillance in workers’ compensation claims. Obtaining footage of an active and healthy-appearing claimant can significantly undermine their disability claim and provide leverage when entering into settlement discussions. Additionally, the potential for the existence of a fraud claim against a claimant (which would be pursued by the Fraud and Compliance Unit of the State Board) is another significant mitigating factor if settlement of the claim is an option, and could even lead to the outright withdrawal of a claim.