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Doctoring workers’ comp claims hurts workers – especially those with psychological injuries

Photo credit: iStock.com/BernardaSv

Workers’ compensation is often thought of as insurance limited to physical injuries on the job. But some work-related psychological conditions are also covered, if they stem from a sudden, tangible, and traumatic event.

Linda Lashell Jordan, a 52-year-old meter reader in southwest Washington, collected $186,000 in benefits from the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) after a dog bit her arm at work. The attack was so traumatic, Jordan claimed in an L&I injury case, that she developed a severe dog phobia and could not return to the workforce if it involved running across a canine.

L&I administers the state workers’ compensation insurance system to help workers injured on the job recover and return to work.

A catch in Jordan’s workers’ comp claim was that she apparently did not tell the truth about her injury, according to L&I. A 14-month L&I investigation found that while Jordan was receiving L&I benefits, she was an avid dog rescuer, breeder and owned six dogs of her own when the investigator visited her home.

Presented with the evidence of the investigation, which included several Facebook accounts Jordan used to advertise dogs for sale and search for dogs to breed, the psychiatrist who diagnosed Jordan with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dog phobia as part of the L&I injury claim, changed the diagnosis to malingering.

Jordan stands accused of faking the severity of her injuries to steal more than $186,000 in benefits from L&I. Charged with wrongfully collecting nearly $163,000 in wage-replacement payments, and more than $23,000 in vocational and medical services, between 2016 and 2019, Jordan is scheduled for arraignment on Oct. 12 on one count of first-degree felony theft in Wahkiakum County Superior Court.

In part due to cases like this, some workers with legitimate injuries do not seek the benefits they deserve out of fear of scrutiny. This can be especially true with psychological injuries, given the social stigma attached to mental illness. Faking a mental illness for financial gain only makes it harder for those who really need help.

 


Call Emery Reddy if an L&I investigator is looking into your legitimate claim, or if you need a consultation regarding another injury, L&I or employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.

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