Many people may think of fraud as something only someone with a criminal mind would commit. We hear about big fraud cases in the news and are probably surprised to learn about people who have stolen large amounts of money from people or companies through fraud. However, fraud is a broad criminal category and covers a wide range of dishonest dealings, large and small. One common form of fraud, which can be major or minor, is insurance fraud. Insurance fraud is easier to commit than you think. Auto insurance fraud in particular is a common occurrence in California, with fraudulent claims accounting for 15-20 % of all auto insurance claim payments. California legislature has found that auto insurance fraud is a significant contributor to high insurance rates and thus is a problem worth aggressively pursuing. California is the nation's biggest insurance market and also one of the biggest auto markets, making auto insurance fraud a huge problem. At a basic level, insurance fraud is intentionally defrauding an insurance company either by filing a false claim, lying on a claim form or otherwise providing false information to the insurance company to obtain an outcome contrary to the terms and conditions of your policy. For example, those who stage an auto accident are committing insurance fraud. Similarly, those who embellish their losses sustained in an auto accident are committing insurance fraud. Those who embellish or otherwise report false injuries after an auto accident are also guilty of committing insurance fraud. This may be distinguished from malingering when you intentionally prolong medical treatment or exaggerate the injuries you suffer from. When it comes to property damage, you could commit auto insurance fraud by working with the auto repair shop to cover repairs not caused by the accident or by having the shop elaborate the value of the repairs. Even those who aid and abet auto insurance fraud committed by another party can be found guilty of insurance fraud. This is an important component of California's insurance fraud laws because many insurance fraud scenarios involve multiple parties who cooperate for each other's mutual benefit. Drivers with comprehensive and uninsured motorist coverage may also falsely report damage to their car caused by a party who fled. However minor auto insurance fraud may seem, after all, the insurance companies are almost crooks themselves, insurance fraud is a serious charge and one that carries with it harsh consequences. If you are being charged with insurance fraud, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The success of your case may hinge on taking quick action toward a strong defense.
Insurance fraud is taken very seriously in California. Accordingly, insurance fraud cases are prosecuted aggressively. Those who stage accidents or coordinate auto insurance fraud scandals are often caught and prosecuted. Those who commit auto insurance fraud can face a minimum of one year in a county jail but up to two to five years in a state prison. They can also face a fine of up to $150,000, or up to double the amount, or value, of the fraud. They can also be ordered to pay restitution to those involved and potentially may be held liable to pay the costs of the investigation of his or her case. Those with prior felony insurance fraud convictions will face an additional two years on top of their sentence. As you can see, California takes insurance fraud very seriously and will ensure those convicted of insurance fraud are punished sufficiently to deter them from ever committing the crime again. Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing insurance fraud charges. Insurance fraud is a complex area of criminal law, but one that should be well understood by all policyholders. Slight falsities or even omitting minor details can be seen as technically insurance fraud. It is best you understand what fraud entails and know what consequences to expect, should you get caught.
Are you or a loved one facing insurance fraud charges? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. With ten years experience in criminal defense, attorney Martens and his Visalia area legal team can ensure you take the right steps towards a solid defense. Insurance fraud cases are challenging however Mr. Martens will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.