Research Notes

Ethics in FECA representation

Some folks think that is an oxymoron to say "ethical Lawyer." A frequent questions I am asked when I tell someone I handle workers compensation cases is, "How can you help all those people scam the system?" The answer is pretty simple. We don't take cases if we know or suspect that someone is faking an injury, lying about the cause of their injury or trying to conceal evidence that is harmful to their case. If we take a case, it is because we believe in the client and believe they deserve the benefits they are seeking. We have also ceased representation when obvious evidence of dishonesty has  come to light.

People who abuse the federal workers compensation system harm every person who was legitimately injured on the job, those who need medical care and those who truly cannot go back to work. As discussed in a previous blog entry, such behavior leads claims examiners and politicians to believe that everyone is trying to cheat the government. These claims examiners then accuse claimants of faking injuries or hatching elaborate schemes to avoid going back to work. Politicians then begin to believe that dramatic changes to FECA are needed to prevent abuse when the fact is that only a tiny percentage of claims are found to be fraudulent.

Now, in our experience, the number of people that are trying to scam the system is incredibly small but it does happen.  Almost without  exception, our clients are hard working people who would much rather be back at work than sitting at home in pain. So, I can accept that occasionally we do help someone who might be scamming us and the system if it means that we help the vast majority of the people who do need and should get our help.

DMG 12-5-12

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