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Opinion

Readers React: How questionable workers’ comp claims harm cops and firefighters with legitimate injuries

HOLLYWOOD, CA JANUARY 7, 2015 -- An LAPD cruiser sits parked at Hollywood and Highland near the sce
An LAPD cruiser parked at Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. in 2015.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I read with serious disappointment about the seemingly phony disability claims made by officers in the Los Angeles Police Department, where I served for 34 years. The department and the officers who serve with honor and integrity deserve better.

Exploiting the system for one’s own illicit gain besmirches the reputation of all of us who made serving in the LAPD our career. Taking advantage of what may be an overly generous workers’ compensation program is clearly dishonest and borderline criminal.

The basic fundamental of working in the LAPD is a commitment to professional behavior. Taking money because you can get away with it is totally wrong and it demeans the reputation of those officers who have sustained illness or injury on the job and deserve just compensation.

Robert Ruchhoft, Cerritos

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To the editor: The main thrust of this article is firefighters and police officers who scam the system. Having worked with firefighters and some police officers as a treating psychologist, I have been impressed by the commitment to public safety of these dutiful men and women.

What needs to be spotlighted are the masses of injured workers whose lives have been changed by serious industrial injuries. Many who are injured in their 20s or 30s will never be able to work again; some undergo failed surgeries that lead to lives of chronic pain. Many lose their families; some become homeless.

The overarching point is that the dignity of work cannot be overstated. People with serious industrial injuries need all the help they can get to return to a productive existence.

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Seth Hirsch, Los Angeles

The writer is a workers’ compensation psychologist.

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To the editor: This great piece of investigative reporting should become a series. Not mentioned is how much workers’ compensation insurance premiums increased, paid by taxpayers, or the extent to which other employers in California are impacted by fraudulent claims.

I am a small business owner with mostly good workers, but I did have to fire someone for drinking on the job. Previously he had a legitimate injury with full recovery, but after he was fired he found a lawyer. The number of “injured” body parts went from one to seven.

My insurance provider settled the claim because it was cheaper to do that than risk a trial. My premium doubled. And, premiums are based on payroll, so the more I pay my workers, the higher my insurance cost is.

I don’t want to make it difficult for an honest employee to get needed care in the event of an accident, but this system seems not to have enough checks and balances, and we are all paying the price.

Edith Read, Orange

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