Construction workers in NY faking falls on sites part of larger fraud scheme, lawsuit claims

Kristin Thorne Image
Sunday, March 17, 2024
Construction workers faking falls on site part of larger fraud scheme
Kristin Thorne has more on the lawsuit and how lawmakers are also getting involved.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- An insurer is claiming in a new lawsuit that construction workers across the state are faking falls in a scheme to commit fraud.

Companies, homeowners, and renters are also feeling the pinch, but the insurer, Tradesmen, says that dozens of local lawyers, doctors, and others have been in on the rouse.

For more than a year now, Tradesmen says it's been investigating these alleged fake falls. One of the reasons is because their insurance premiums have skyrocketed.

Construction companies are having to charge more and thus you're having to pay more in your home ownership or renter's costs. Worker's comp settlements can be millions of dollars and this lawsuit claims that some local lawyers and doctors have been cashing in.

One video shows woman on a construction site in Fort George gingerly walks down a makeshift staircase and when she gets to one of the last steps she stumbles and falls. It doesn't appear to be a major fall, but according to the lawsuit she later filed against the property owner and construction company, she suffered injuries that have left her permanently disabled and suffering from severe mental shock and anguish.

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Another video revealed a man working at a construction site in Queens who said that as a result of a trip and fall, he suffered spinal and knee injuries that required major surgery and caused permanent physical damage contained in a lawsuit he filed against the property owners.

The videos were provided to Eyewitness News by Tradesmen after they filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging wide scale fraud involving alleged construction site injuries. The lawsuit claims that eight local doctors, their practices and various other medical professionals preyed upon vulnerable primarily Spanish-speaking immigrants to engage in the fraud and that they profited from it. The documents also acknowledges four lawyers and their firms were in on it too.

"They train the migrants how to act at some of these staged accidents," said attorney Kirk Willis. "And then when the people are hurt - allegedly hurt - they go to the lawyer first - not the doctor - and the lawyer then starts a course that sets up these fraudulent lawsuits.

Tradesmen says it has received what it believes to be more than 650 fraudulent claims over the last four years.

"If we did not have the proof, we would not have filed the complaint," said attorney William Clay.

Last week, a bill was introduced in Albany which would make staging a construction site accident for the purposes of insurance fraud a felony.

"These fraudulent acts have emerged as widespread insurance scams which lead to inflated costs in construction and housing throughout New York State, said Assemblyman David Weprin.

One of the law firms included in the lawsuit filed by Tradesman told me it denies any and all wrongdoing.

Gorayeb and Associates says the complaint is a gross mischaracterization of Christopher Gorayeb and his firm and that they look forward to the truth coming to light.

The New York Trial Lawyers' Association declined to comment on the lawsuit. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health did not respond to our requests for comment on the lawsuit.

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