First District Appellate Court Affirms Decision Denying Florida Workers’ Compensation Benefits Over Employee Misrepresentation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Clark v. R&L Carriers, a semi-truck driver was allegedly injured on the job in two separate traffic collisions in 2012. According to the trucker, he suffered serious neck, back, and shoulder injuries in the two accidents. Following the crashes, the man’s employer authorized medical care for both incidents. Later, the employer received a copy of the man’s medical records that predated the 2012 collisions. In the healthcare records, the trucker apparently complained of injuries that were similar to those for which he sought compensation from his employer. Around the same time, the driver’s employer also learned that the man engaged in prior litigation over this harm in another state. As a result, the trucker’s employer refused to compensate him for any further benefits related to the 2012 tractor-trailer accidents, based on the truck driver’s alleged misrepresentation.

Following a hearing on the matter, a Florida Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) ruled that the truck driver committed misrepresentation when he did not alert his physicians to his prior medical history. Because of this, the JCC held that the trucker’s workers’ compensation claims were barred under Florida law. In response, the worker asked Florida’s First District Court of Appeal to review the decision.

On appeal, the court stated the JCC’s order would not be overturned as long as the competent substantial evidence provided supported his decision. In addition, the court said the fact that a different result may have been reached based upon the record was not enough to overturn the JCC’s finding. After that, the appellate court turned to the facts of the trucker’s case.

The First District dismissed the injured truck driver’s argument that the JCC’s decision finding his claims were barred by Florida law was not supported by the evidence. According to the court, Section 440.09(4)(a) of the Florida Statutes expressly states that an employee who “knowingly or intentionally” chooses to make a fraudulent or misleading statement in an effort to secure workers’ compensation may not receive benefits.

After reviewing the record, the appellate court found that the man repeatedly made affirmative misrepresentations regarding his prior health history to his physicians and other healthcare providers. The appellate court stated the material misrepresentations were so numerous as to remove any reasonable possibility that the truck driver provided his doctors with trivial inaccuracies. Since the record demonstrated that the tractor-trailer driver made materially misleading statements to his medical providers, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal affirmed the JCC’s decision that the man’s workers’ compensation claims were barred by Florida law.

If you were severely injured in a workplace accident anywhere in Florida, you need a caring personal injury lawyer on your side to help you protect your rights. To schedule a free consultation with a skilled workers’ compensation attorney today, do not hesitate to give the seasoned personal injury advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. a call at (305) 448-8585 or contact us online.

Additional Resources:

Clark v. R&L Carriers, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2014

More Blog Posts:

Florida Appeals Court Holds Auto Insurer is Not Liable for PIP Benefits Above the Statutory Maximum Absent Bad Faith, December 22, 2014, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Florida’s Fifth District Refuses to Consider Unpreserved Liability Issue in Car Accident Case, December 17, 2014, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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