Truck driver to repay $144k after false work injury claim

A truck driver who twice called an ambulance as he drove home from a V8 Supercars event has been convicted for falsely claiming his back injury happened the next day while exiting his truck at work.

The 58-year-old Melton West man was sentenced in the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to two charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception and one charge of obtaining property by deception.

He was placed on a two-year Community Corrections Order with the condition that he repay $143,982 in compensation he received and perform 180 hours of unpaid community work.

The court heard that in January 2015, the man submitted a WorkCover claim for a back injury, answering “no” when asked if he had had a previous injury that relates to his claim.

He said he was injured stepping out of his truck at a job site in November 2014. The court heard that, at the time, he told an ambulance officer that he felt a “pop” in his hip and couldn’t bear weight on that leg.

His claim was accepted, including liability for weekly payments and medical expenses, including spinal surgery in March 2015.

In August 2017 payments were terminated when a WorkSafe investigation found that the day before he claimed to have been injured at work, he twice called an ambulance for stabbing hip and leg pain as he returned from a V8 Supercars event at Phillip Island.

Hospital records showed he was diagnosed with sciatica after reporting a “pop” of hip pain while packing his car a few days earlier, which had worsened over the weekend.

“This was a significant fraud, which took money and resources that should have been supporting injured workers and families in legitimate need,” said WorkSafe insurance executive director Roger Arnold.

“There is no excuse for this type of deception and WorkSafe won’t hesitate to prosecute anyone who tries to take advantage of the WorkCover compensation scheme for their own personal gain.”

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