ABC 5 Eyewitness News began investigating Pride Transportation in 2019 after the company allegedly refused to cooperate with police when a bus carrying elementary school students went missing for several hours in Brooklyn Park.
According to an investigative report, Pride Transportation has been operating buses with multiple safety issues, including broken emergency doors and bad brakes. The company has also purportedly been operating without workers’ compensation insurance coverage for more than three years.
The news agency looked into Pride Transportation’s state records for workers’ comp coverage after learning that bus driver Annette Wilson wasn’t compensated for an injury she suffered on the job in January 2020.
Wilson purportedly injured her back after a man rear-ended her school bus in Roseville, so she called Pride Transportation to ask if their workers’ comp plan would cover her injury. She told the press that Pride Transportation offered her a $1,000 under-the-table deal, which wasn’t enough to cover her medical bills.
Wilson filed a complaint with the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI). Her case has reportedly been turned over to the agency’s “special compensation fund,” which was established to help injured workers whose employers don’t have insurance.
State records reportedly show that Pride Transportation was uninsured for more than three years, from January 2017 to February 2020. The company briefly had coverage for exactly one year from August 2016 until August 2017, but it canceled the plan in 2017. Records also show the company reinstated its workers’ compensation policy on February 6, 2020 after Wilson went to the press with her story.
DLI Commissioner Nancy Leppink told 5 Eyewitness News that she couldn’t confirm if Pride Transportation is under investigation.
“When we find an employer who’s not complied with the workers’ compensation laws, very often they have not complied with other laws like occupational safety and health, unemployment insurance, like minimum wage and overtime,” said Leppink. “Therefore, that’s a significant issue. It also creates an unleveled playing field for the good employers who are following the rules.”
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that pays for the medical expenses and lost wages of workers who are injured while on the job in exchange for giving up their right to sue their employer for negligence.
Most states in the U.S. have some form of compulsory workers’ compensation. In Florida, for example, all private employers must obtain workers’ compensation coverage if they employ four or more people. Employers in the construction industry are the only exception—they are required to have insurance for every worker, even if they hire less than four people.
Employers who are under investigation for workers’ compensation fraud should immediately consult with an experienced fraud attorney to discuss their rights and the best course of action in order to protect themselves against the allegations.
South Florida Workers’ Compensation Fraud Attorney
Is your company accused of committing workers’ compensation fraud? Contact Brian Silber, P.A. for a free initial consultation with one of South Florida’s most experienced workers’ compensation fraud defense attorneys.