Most will agree that a robbery can be traumatic, and possibly leave lasting effects on an employee. Effects that might even be worthy of workers’ compensation benefits. Sometimes even the robbers feel those effects and can try to get comp. Fortunately in this case the “victim” in question was foiled not once, but twice.
On September 5 of 2012, the East Los Angeles Bank of America was robbed. Aurora Barrera was an assistant manager at the bank and on that day, walked in with a bomb strapped to her chest. She told her co-workers that she had been held hostage by two men who forced her to wear the bomb and then sent her to get money out of the bank vault and leave it outside of the building so those two men could go back and pick it up. The thieves made off with $565,500. Obviously the cops were called as well as a bomb squad, who found that the bomb was a fake after the robbery.
Two days after the robbery, she submitted a comp claim for PTSD and collected about $35,573 in temporary total disability benefits, plus another $9,964 in medical and insurance expenses.
Once investigators determined that she was, in fact, an accomplice in the robbery, everything fell apart for Barrerra. She was ordered to turn herself in for her role in the heist and faces up to nine years for that. She and the other robbers involved have been ordered to pay $557,300 in restitution to the bank since the bank was only able to recover a small amount of the total $565,500 that was stolen. Her comp claim was also fraudulent, so she could face an additional five years for insurance fraud.
I think that there are traumatic situations that can leave lasting effects on an employee. Unfortunately situations like this add fuel to the fire for those who might say that a lot of PTSD cases are made up. This one was, but that does not mean that we should ignore all mental afflictions when it comes to workers’ comp. There are some who really need it and who are really suffering.