new york 31503 640

Videos of Injured Transit Authority Worker Doing Flooring Work Pull Plug on Benefits

04 Mar, 2024 Chris Parker

new york 31503 640
                               

New York City, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – If a picture can paint a thousand words, a surveillance video is potentially akin to a novel. As a case involving a Transit Authority worker shows, private investigators’’ videos of a claimant’s daily activities have the potential to reveal that the employee’s statements during a medical exam were essentially fiction.

In Yolas v. New York City Transit Auth., No. CV-22-1903 (N.Y. App. Div. 02/22/24), a car inspector and mechanic obtained workers’ compensation benefits for injuries arising out of the repetitive use of his right shoulder and both knees. In 2021, the mechanic sought to establish a claim for permanency and was required to undergo an independent medical exam.

The Workers' Compensation Board ruled that the mechanic and violated Workers' Compensation Law § 114-a and disqualified him from receiving further benefits.

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§ 114-a(1) provides that a claimant who, for the purpose of obtaining workers' compensation benefits, knowingly makes a false statement or representation as to a material fact shall be disqualified from receiving any compensation directly attributable to that false statement or representation.

On appeal, the court pointed out that the evidence indicated the mechanic wasn’t truthful during the medical examination. He claimed that he retired in 2014, that he was experiencing intermittent sharp pain in his shoulders when reaching or extending, that he had increased pain in his knee after walking a few miles, and that he had morning stiffness in his other knee with occasional episodes of sharp pain in his left total knee replacement.

The evidence, however, including surveillance videos, indicated that the mechanic, while purportedly suffering permanent injuries to knees and shoulders, continued to work in a family flooring business.

Further, although the mechanic claimed he basically only supervised his son in the flooring business, the videos showed he had been stripping and installing floors. Further, he had been doing that work for one restaurant with regularity.

“Although claimant testified that he does not have full range of motion with his left knee, which he stated does not bend regularly, the surveillance videos do not confirm any physical limitations,” the court wrote.

The court agreed with the Board that the mechanic violated Workers' Compensation Law § 114-a by:

  • Deliberately misrepresenting his physical condition (i.e., range of motion) during his permanency evaluation; and
  • By continuing to work since his retirement in 2014 while simultaneously collecting benefits.

The court also agreed that the mechanic's misrepresentations, and his ongoing attempts to downplay his work activities, were sufficiently egregious to warrant permanently disqualifying him from receiving future benefits. .

The court affirmed the Board’s decision.


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