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09-03-2020-Southport

Date 9 March 2020
Charges

1 charge pursuant to Section 533 Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) (WCRA) –Fraud

1 charge pursuant to Section 136 WCRA – Failing to notify the insurer of an engagement in a calling

10 charges pursuant to Section 534 WCRA – Providing false or misleading information or documents

Court Southport Magistrates Court
Plea Plea of Guilty
Case The worker was charged with defrauding the insurer by returning to a calling without notifying, and for providing false or misleading information in relation to their symptoms and capacity.
Facts

On 13 November 2017 the worker lodged an application for compensation with the insurer for a left hand injury sustained in the course of their employment.

Throughout the duration of the claim, the worker made representations to the insurer and to medical practitioners to the effect that:

  • they were in a full elbow brace and unable to move their wrist at all;
  • they were unable to do strength training at the gym;
  • they were experiencing increased pain in the left wrist;
  • they were not currently working; they were in constant pain, their wrist felt very weak, they had no confidence, they couldn’t train at the gym and they can’t do anything because their pain levels are too high;
  • they were unable to participate in a boxing match due to the injury;
  • they couldn’t even lift a three-litre bottle of milk.

On 12 January 2018, the worker had a conversation with their employer’s ex-business partner and admitted that they were “all good to work” but asked them not to tell anyone. The worker also said that they had been at the gym and riding motorbikes. When asked directly if they would be able to do framework with their hand, the worked responded “I’m good to go mate, just don’t say anything”. This conversation was recorded and provided to the insurer.

The worker was also placed under surveillance and variously captured performing roofing work and participating in a boxing match without any signs of physical restrictions.

After reviewing the footage, the Orthopaedic Surgeon who had previously assessed the worker determined that the worker’s presentation therein was inconsistent with their representations of pain and incapacity.

Penalty

6 months imprisonment, wholly suspended for an operational period of 2 years on the fraud charge

3 months imprisonment, wholly suspended for an operational period of 2 years on each of the providing false or misleading information charges

Terms to be served concurrently
Restitution $23,012.37
Costs $12,711.55
Common Law rights extinguished? Yes
Conviction Recorded
Consideration for Prevention A worker should be honest about their symptoms and capacity when speaking with the insurer and medical practitioners. If a worker returns to any form of work (whether paid, unpaid or voluntary) while they are on workers’ compensation, they must notify the insurer.