Sherriff’s Employee Sentenced in Fraud Case
In September 2013, a woman was sentenced after pleading guilty to four counts of workers’ compensation insurance fraud.
29-year-old Keri Atwood of Santa Paula was a civilian employee at the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. She claimed that another employee had hit the back of her foot with a mail cart and injured her left ankle. Ms. Atwood was placed on total disability status and collected over $29,000 in disability pay.
Although Ms. Atwood used crutches or a wheelchair at medical appointments, witnesses stated that Ms. Atwood was completely mobile elsewhere and engaged in physical activities that she claimed to be unable to perform. Ms. Atwood was sentenced to 150 days in jail and 36 months’ probation, and ordered to pay $18,319 in restitution. 36-year-old Michael Atwood, also of Santa Paula, was sentenced to 60 days and 36 months as Ms. Atwood’s accomplice.
Avoiding abusive claims
Corona workers’ compensation attorneys suggest several ways that your company can avoid abusive claims:
- Employee training. Some employees may not understand the serious consequences of an insurance fraud case. Be sure to explain everything frequently and in writing. One idea may be to circulate links to stories such as the one involving Ms. Atwood.
- Employee history. Carefully review the employee’s past workers’ compensation claims, if any. Is this the third or fourth time the employee has filed on an injured back?
- Follow-up.Verify that the employee is making progress in medical treatments and is showing up at all therapy appointments. If there are gaps or inconsistencies, confront the employee.
For a confidential consultation with an attorney that knows how to use the system, contact our office.