Bonneville County, ID (WorkersCompensation.com)- An Idaho Falls resident has been sentenced d to one year in jail for lying about the impact of his occupational injury. 47-year-old Jason G. Smith plead guilty in April to lying while under oath during a deposition.
Smith sustained an injury while he was employed at Ox Industrial in May 2012 when a hot piece of molten slag landed on his left ear. The work accident caused Smith to lose hearing in his left ear, and damaged his eardrum. Smith saw a doctor in attempts to repair some of the damage and alleviate some of the symptoms he was experiencing. The State Insurance Fund awarded him workers’ compensation benefits; however, the agency began to question the extent of his injury for which he claimed benefits for the next two years.
Court records obtained by WorkersCompensation.com show the State Insurance Fund arranged for Snith to get an independent medical evaluation in April 2014.
At the same time, authorities also conducted undercover surveillance over a two-day period, (April 27-29). During this time, Smith tole the IME doctors that he was unable to drive, stand without falling, or walk without assistance.
However, the two-day surveillance showed him engaging in activities he said he was not able to do. Smith had been driving, walking without any help at all, talking on a cellphone and bending over, as well as lifting his hands over his head, authorities said.
During a deposition by the Industrial Commission six weeks later, Smith maintained he was still not able to perform essential daily functions, despite being caught doing them during the surveillance. Authorities say Smith perjured himself while under oath during the deposition by misrepresenting his ability to drive. During the testimony, Smith also stated, “I lose my balance. The vertigo gets pretty bad, and I lose my balance very badly.”
When he had been asked how many times over the years he had fallen, Smith said he couldn’t say it if had been 50 or 100 times, but there had been many. He also declared “from a standing position I’m pretty much going to the ground. My eyes get blurry and fuzzy, and I start to get dizzy, and I get these little specks in the air, and I just can’t control the depth perception,” even though on multiple occasions under surveillance, he was seen walking and bending over with no apparent prblem.
When asked in his deposition if he drove Smith stated “No.” When asked if he haed even attempted to drive he said “no” and that when he tried to drive his lawnmower, he wasn’t successful. However, again on several occasions, he was seen operating a vehicle with no apparent problems.
Toward the end of the deposition, Smith was asked again to clarify if he was unable to drive, and did that mean he doesn’t drive. Authorities specifically asked him if he was permanently unable to drive because of his dizziness, and he replied, “Yes, sir. I wouldn’t want to be out there if I knew I was out there.” In the investigation report, however, it clearly states that during the two-day surveillance, he was seen driving his car over 12 times.
After reviewing both the surveillance and the deposition, the doctors noted that they believed that Smith perjured himself over 25 times and revised their impairment rating from 45 percent to 6 percent. They said that while there was no question that Smith had suffered an injury to his ear from his work-related accident, the subject at hand was had he been exaggerating his symptoms so it would increase his impairment, which in turn would increase the money he received from the State Insurance Fund.
After the deposition, and Smith’s guilty plea, authorities recommended that the case be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General for legal review for insurance fraud. Fourth District Court Judge Jason Scott sentenced Smith to a year in prison, which can be served with work release. Smith was also ordered to pay court costs, and according to Office of the Attorney General, the court can impose restitution at a later date.