Truck drivers are more likely to experience nonfatal and fatal injuries on the job than any other American worker. Sadly, domestic truckers account for twelve percent of national labor fatalities, making particularly troublesome a recent news report on an Ohio transport company owner’s refusal to stay current on his workers’ compensation policy. According to the Morrow County Sentinel, not only did the trucking company bigwig allow his policy to lapse, he also pumped the breaks on attempts by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) to update his coverage.
BWC opened a fraud investigation when its attempts to bring the company’s workers’ compensation policy into compliance failed to slow its owner’s determination to roll over everyone in his path. Agents soon discovered that he had claimed his truckers as subcontractors. (Adding insult to potential injury, we highly doubt that his “subcontractors” were informed of their right to hire employees and delegate work).
The trucking company owner broke down and paid his past-due workers’ compensation premiums, after multiple interviews with BWC investigators mapped out his obligation to make current that policy and accurately report employee wages; still, his drive to defraud the Ohio BWC remained in high gear. He went on to report to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services wages paid that totaled $266,000 more than his numbers submitted to BWC. (Perhaps he thought that $266,000 was slightly more believable than a flat quarter-million dollars?)
This scammer’s remaining fumes went up in smoke following his failure to either comply with investigators’ request for additional payroll information or enroll in a payment plan, and a subsequent review by the Marion City Law Directors office signaled his fast-track to prison. In addition to a second-degree misdemeanor conviction for failing to yield to Ohio law, he was ordered to become compliant with BWC regulations and pay $3724.77 in restitution and $400 in fines. Additionally, he was sentenced to 90 days behind bars, suspended for two years community control.
Workers’ compensation insurance is in place for employees whose job-related injuries have negatively affected their physical condition, often including their ability to fulfill professional obligations. In the absence of proper avenues to care, such as monetary compensation, employees’ injuries can cause an even greater disruption to their lives and overall productivity. What this fraudster failed to recognize is that an employer’s lack of deference for the program not only is illegal; over time, it erodes a company’s long term efficiency and affects its financial bottom line.