Calif. Man Arrested for Allegedly Faking Injuries to Collect Workers’ Comp Benefits

June 21, 2010

Steven Harder, 43, of Woodland, Calif., has surrendered to authorities on June 10 for allegedly staging and blaming a workplace accident for injuries resulting from a non work-related car accident, the California Department of Insurance reported.

Harder surrendered at the Yolo County Jail in connection with allegations of workers’ compensation fraud, the Department said. He was charged with one felony count of knowingly making a false or fraudulent material statement or material misrepresentation for the purpose of obtaining compensation. If convicted, Harder could receive up to 5 years in State Prison and a $50,000 fine.

According to the DOI, Steve Harder filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits alleging that he had fallen from an excavator on May 5, 2004, causing a severe brain injury. Harder claimed his vision became very poor and that he lives in the dark because of the injury. He even refused to remove his dark glasses at his medical examinations, claiming the lighting in the offices hurt his eyes. He also claimed the injury affected his ability to walk, the DOI said. The claim was accepted and State Fund began providing temporary total disability benefits. Information was later received that indicated the accident may have been staged and that Harder’s injuries actually resulted from a non-industrial motor vehicle accident, the DOI said.

A joint investigation by the California Department of Insurance and the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office discovered the alleged fraud. Investigators discovered this during the course of a civil suit filed by Harder against the manufacturer of the equipment he was using at the time of the alleged injury. Harder appeared in court during the civil suit using a wheel chair. At a lunch recess, the Judge Pro Tem witnessed Harder walking to a restroom with a normal gait and without the assistance of a wheel chair or any other type of assistance, the DOI said.

Undercover video was obtained of Harder on Sept. 10, 2008, showing him wearing a wet suit and engaging in mining activities, the DOI said. It was noted that during these activities, Harder was not wearing a hat or dark glasses. He was observed using a cane only occasionally.

Harder purportedly received $414,171 from State Fund Insurance. His civil suit against the manufacturer of the equipment he was using when he was injured was settled for $20,000. Harder was originally seeking $100,000.

Source: CDI

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.