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Dubious injury claims are easy money for police and firefighters

To the editor: The answer to The Times' question about injury claims made by police officers and firefighters is easy: Because they can. ("Why so many injury claims from L.A. public safety workers?," Editorial, Sept. 29)

Having worked in the insurance industry for more than 30 years handling thousands of injury claims and being familiar with workers' compensation insurance, this has been an ongoing problem since I've been in the field. And it's not just government workers that take advantage of the system.

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The vast majority of cases involve spinal soft tissue injuries. Most of those injuries are subjective in nature and based on pain complaints. Diagnostic studies typically reveal degenerative conditions that could have been aggravated by the specific event.

It is very difficult to prove someone is not in pain. And when you investigate and see the "injured" workers playing racquetball, participating in karate or doing other physically intense activities, it does raise suspicion of fraud.

Unfortunately, the way the system is set up, it is bound to be gamed by those who decide to take advantage of it.

Steve Owen, San Diego

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To the editor: The issue to be investigated about injury claims in L.A. is not why there are so many — that's obvious. This is easy, tax-free money, available to all who don't feel like working, and politicians act as if they had never heard of the problem until The Times stirs the water.

The question is why are there so few such claims?

Arthur Armstrong, Manhattan Beach

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