In some circumstances, an employee-claimant’s
fraudulent representations on a benefits application or during a
deposition can bar the recovery of worker’s compensation benefits and
can even be the basis for criminal penalty.
However, even the defense of employee fraud is
not absolute. Under a Louisiana statute similar to that of other
states, an appellate court held that fraudulent misrepresentations do
not bar the award of worker’s compensation where the employee did not
make the misrepresentation for the express purpose of obtaining
benefits. Thus, if an employee engages in fraud for a purpose other
than the express purpose of collecting benefits, then the employee is
entitled to benefits.
For example, the employee in the Louisiana case
severed his fingers within the course of his employment. In a
deposition regarding his claim for benefits, he concealed his habitual
marijuana use for fear that disclosure of the truth would drive his
attorney to abandon his case. Eventually, he admitted the extent of
his habit as well as having smoked the drug four days prior to the
accident. His fraud did not have a disqualifying effect because the
court found that having smoked the drugs four days prior to the
accident was not the cause of the accident.