Friday, January 30, 2015

Survivor: Brad Culpepper - Workers Comp Fraud?

Oh my. Brad Culpepper, who appeared with his wife Monica on Survivor: Blood vs. Water, is being sued by the insurance company who handled his workers compensation settlement case. The original Good Morning America segment and article can be found at this link.

Now, as a true Survivor fan (as if you couldn't tell) and also a person who once received a workers comp settlement for an injury, I feel the need to comment on this. Just to clarify my own workers comp experience -- I injured my right knee about 20 years ago. After surgeries and much pain, about six years after the accident I was rated as a 40% permanent disability of the entire right leg and received a settlement but a fraction of what Culpepper received.

Now that the Culpepper disability bit is coming to light, I'm surprised that:
  • He's been rated as an 89% TOTAL disability due to the injuries he received as an NFL player. To me, that kind of rating should just about put him in a wheelchair!
  • He only received $175,000 for that rating in view of his NFL income (or perhaps it just might be what I perceive as the income an NFL player gets). It would seem to me that if an NFL player were to lose his livelihood due to injuries, that amount should be much higher. If I'm not mistaken, the settlements take into consideration future medical costs (unless dealt with separately) and loss of future income based on income itself.
One of the problems with Culpepper's performance on the show that's being brought up doesn't seem quite fair. The insurance company claims that he said he has trouble getting in and out of a bathtub, then shows him jumping into the water on Survivor.

Two totally different things, I say! Due to my original knee injury and later knee replacements, I myself have problems getting into and out of a bathtub. Yet, I could easily jump into the water like that. My doctor might recommend against it, but physically it's really not hard to jump into water from a platform! That particular athletic "feat" shouldn't even apply to the lawsuit.

That said, he shouldn't have gone on the show. He was a powerhouse that season. Sure, he "worked through the pain." But it does seem to me that if he has an 89% total disability rating, he simply shouldn't have been able to physically DO the stuff he did on the show. With that kind of rating, there should be no way he could physically perform like that, pain or no pain.

I'm not saying that the man doesn't have some serious injuries and probably does have pain. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve workers compensation for those permanent injuries. I do question the extremely high rating of disability when he can exert himself to the level he did on Survivor. He simply shouldn't be able to physically do the stuff he did. But then again, I think that in view of his income as an NFL player, the amount he received for such a high rating is quite paltry.

All in all, he shouldn't have gone on the show. By doing so and performing as he did, it makes a mockery out of his disability rating. In my opinion, he wasn't out to defraud workers compensation. The amount he received probably was adequate for the injuries he received. It's not like he got millions. My only concern is the rating. Brad Culpepper is obviously not 89% totally disabled. I realize the man was/is an athlete. But I couldn't have done the show with my dinky 40% permanent disability of one leg. However, in my own experience, I had nothing to do with the final rating I received. I could only present the medical findings. It was all doctors and lawyers who came up with the rating. I'd imagine with Brad Culpepper, it was the same sort of thing. He presented with his injuries and "they" decided the rating and settlement.

What are your thoughts on this?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are things you do when you have to, whether you are in pain or not. He did what he had to do to be on that show.

I have a torn right hamstring and have been dealing with it for over a year. I did PT for 6 months to help it heal. They told more it would be another 6 months and it would be completely healed after that. It's not - it still bothers me. Yet, I had surgery on my left hip and was on crutches for 5 weeks, with 4 of them non-weight-bearing on that left leg. My right left and thus hamstring got a strenuous workout during that time but I had no choice.