Workers’ Comp Fraud Alleged in Case of Florida Men Hit by Lightning

Posted on Dec 25, 2013

A Florida tile and marble contractor has been arrested on workers’ compensation fraud charges after two of his employees who were struck by lightning were found to not be covered by the workplace insurance.

The contractor, Joel Trujillo, of East Naples-based K.C. Tile and Marble at 3773 Arnold Ave., is accused of violating a stop work order and of third-degree felony workers’ compensation fraud, according to Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

State investigators discovered Trujillo was not carrying workers’ comp insurance for the worker who was killed in the lightning strike or the second worker who was injured while working on a house near the Collier County Fairgrounds. As a result, his company was served with a stop-work order by the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation Compliance. Trujillo’s business was in violation of Florida Statute Chapter 440 when he was arrested, authorities said. If convicted he faces up to 10 years in prison. He posted $10,000 bond after his arrest.

Robert Wiley, who was doing rebar work and coming down a ladder when the lightning struck, died from his injuries. The other worker is Jose Kenn Alexi Cruz Villamar. Neither Wiley’s family nor Cruz Villamar received appropriate workers’ compensation benefits because they had not been covered in the system.

The case highlights the importance of workers’ comp compliance by employers, note attorneys at Johnson & Gilbert, serving Ormond Beach and the greater Daytona Beach metropolitan area. Most employees know the coverage is required by law and believe they will be eligible to receive benefits should a tragic accident like this one occur, the attorneys add.

Ignoring workers’ comp law is not only criminal, states CFO Atwater, “it creates significant hardships for families suffering not only the loss or injury of a loved one, but also from the financial losses due to medical bills and missed work.”

Without workers’ comp coverage Wiley’s family could not receive potentially allowable death benefits which may have included up to $7,500 in funeral expenses, compensation to dependents and educational benefits to the surviving spouse. Benefits are payable up to a maximum total of $150,000.

Ormond Beach-based workers’ compensation attorneys at Johnson & Gilbert have been helping injured workers and their families with claims for more than 15 years. Call them at 386.673.4412 or toll-free at 800.556.8890 for a free consultation.

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