District Attorney Gregory Totten reported that the Ventura County (Calif.) District Attorney’s Office will implement a new Uninsured Employer Compliance Program on March 20, 2006, to ensure employers in Ventura County have obtained workers’ compensation insurance or have provided benefits for their employees as required by law.
Workers’ comp insurance fraud results in increased costs to employers and taxpayers and remains a significant threat to the California economy. The majority of workers’ comp fraud schemes are perpetrated by unscrupulous employees, medical doctors, and chiropractors who engage in schemes to file and report false work-related injury claims.
Other violations involve employers who cut costs by failing to obtain proper workers’ comp coverage for their employees. Employers who engage in such conduct leave their employees unprotected against work-related injuries and gain an unfair competitive advantage in the marketplace.
As a part of this new program, district attorney investigators will periodically contact employers to request written proof of workers’ comp insurance. An employer unable to provide such written proof will receive a citation to appear in the Ventura County Superior Court for misdemeanor charges of failing to obtain workers’ comp insurance or benefits in violation of Labor Code section 3700.5.
Employers that have workers’ comp coverage, but cannot immediately provide written proof of their insurance coverage, will have 10 days to provide such written proof to the District Attorney’s Office before a criminal misdemeanor complaint will be filed.
The maximum punishment for a first violation of Labor Code section 3700.5 is imprisonment in county jail for up to one year or a fine of not less than $10,000 or up to double the amount of premium required.
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