A California construction worker who allegedly claimed the injuries he suffered in a fight were work-related has been arraigned in Merced County Superior Court for workers’ compensation insurance fraud.
Meliton Hernandez Martinez Jr., 23, of Atwarter faces felony counts of insurance fraud and a misdemeanor count of filing a false police report. It is unclear if he has acquired the services of an attorney.
According to a news release, the accused filed a workers’ compensation claim with his employer and allegedly provided false statements about the circumstances that led to his injury.
It is unclear when or where the alleged injury occurred, but an investigation by the California Department of Insurance revealed that he had allegedly made inappropriate gestures to an unnamed woman in the parking lot during his mid-morning break and was confronted by her boyfriend, a U.S. Marine, who reportedly told him to be respectful. Surveillance footage from the parking lot purportedly shows the accused, without provocation, punching the Marine in the face multiple times. He was then stabbed in the abdomen and the arm, which investigators later determined to have done in self-defense, sources indicate.
The accused had to be airlifted to a local hospital for treatment. He allegedly filed a workers’ compensation claim with his employer to have his medical bills covered, claiming his injuries were inflicted while he was on the job. However, his claim was later denied by his employer’s insurer after the Department of Insurance discovered that he was the initial aggressor in the fight, and toxicology results revealed he was allegedly under the influence of alcohol and cannabis at the time of the incident.
The defendant’s case is being prosecuted by the Merced County District Attorney’s Office. The press release announcing his arraignment noted that these allegations are merely accusations and that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty through court proceedings.
Workers’ compensation is an insurance fund that covers an injured worker’s medical bills, temporary or permanent disability benefits, portion of lost income, cost of physical rehabilitation, and sometimes even death benefits for the next of kin of a worker killed while on the job.
Almost every state requires businesses to operate with workers’ compensation insurance with specific rules on how compensation claims, payments, legal proceedings, and procedures function. Making this type of insurance mandatory incentivizes businesses to keep their workers safe and reduces the risk of civil litigation against employers.
Making false statements and committing fraud to obtain compensation benefits is a severe offense with penalties that can include prison time and hefty fines. Anyone suspected of committing workers’ compensation fraud should immediately consult an experienced attorney who can review the evidence and plan the best course of action to minimize the potential penalties.
South Florida Workers’ Comp Fraud Attorney
Are you accused of committing workers’ compensation fraud in Florida? Contact Brian Silber, P.A. to set up a free initial consultation with one of South Florida’s most experienced workers’ compensation fraud attorneys.