|Date||18 January 2019|
2x charges pursuant to Section 533 Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) (WCRA) – Fraud and Attempted Fraud
1x charge pursuant to Section 136 WCRA – Failure to notify of an engagement in a calling
9x charges pursuant to Section 534(2) WCRA – false or misleading statements
|Court||Brisbane Magistrates Court|
|Case||The worker defrauded the insurer by failing to notify of their return to a calling and making false statements to the effect that the worker was not able to work. They further attempted to defraud the insurer by making false statements in relation to not having returned to work in their Notice of Claim for common law damages.|
The worker made a workers' compensation claim for a psychological injury they sustained as a result of an incident that occurred while they were working as a truck driver.
Throughout the claim, the worker made statements to various doctors and to the insurer to the effect that they were unable to work but spent much of their time “tinkering” with ride on mowers and mowing their own lawns. The worker variously described this as a “hobby” and “voluntary work”.
When the statutory claim ended, the worker filed a Notice of Claim (NOC) for damages. In that NOC, the worker did not disclose their earnings from their lawn mowing and repairs business and when asked whether they were undertaking any paid or unpaid work with any employer, or on a self-employed basis, they answered 'no'.
The worker subsequently provided a Statutory Declaration as an addendum to the NOC that stated that the worker was “pretty handy” with small motors and had offered to help a few friends and neighbours with mower repairs. The worker stated that they did this mostly free of charge or for a carton of beer. The worker estimated that they had received about $100 in total for mower repairs since being injured.
The worker also made false statements to the two doctors who assessed them for the purposes of permanent impairment assessment reports in relation to the common law claim.
The worker's bank statements revealed large amounts of unexplained and undisclosed income in excess of $40,000. Enquiries with people who credited the worker's account during the relevant period confirmed that the worker was either mowing their lawns or making repairs to their mower.
|Penalty||The worker was sentenced to 7 months imprisonment, on each offence of fraud and attempted fraud, and 3 months imprisonment on each of the remaining 9 charges. It was ordered that the whole term be suspended for an operational period of 2 years.|
|Common Law rights extinguished?||Yes|
|Consideration for Prevention||A worker should notify the insurer if they perform any activity ordinarily giving rise to the receipt of remuneration or reward including self-employment or the performance of an occupation, trade, profession, or carrying on of a business, whether or not the person performing the activity received remuneration.|