Engaging in personal injury fraud in Florida has serious ramifications. You can face personal injury fraud charges if you provide false information while filing a claim. Fraud mainly involves acts intended to deceive the insurance company and make it pay for exaggerated or non-existent injuries. It is fraudulent to seek compensation for injuries or damages unrelated to an accident covered by the insurance policy.
It is important to note that you do not have to make a false representation or lie to be guilty of personal injury fraud. You can commit fraud by failing to disclose important information and facts to the insurer. For instance, if you notify your insurer of an accident, but you withhold some information you have a legal duty to disclose, you could face fraud charges.
Types of Personal Injury Fraud
Fraudulent personal injury-related insurance claims fall under two major categories:
The alternative name for soft insurance fraud is opportunistic insurance fraud. It is the most common type of personal injury fraud. Soft insurance fraud involves exaggerating the severity of your injuries and filing inflated claims. It is an offense to claim losses above your actual damages. Soft personal injury fraud often occurs when people are filing legitimate claims. You can commit this fraud if you include previous injuries in your claim.
Also known as premeditated insurance fraud, hard insurance fraud occurs when a person invents a strategy to make an insurance claim. Hard insurance fraud involves engaging in deliberate action. You may commit hard insurance fraud if you stage arson or vehicle theft.
You could also face hard insurance fraud charges if you cause an accident deliberately. Law enforcement officers and insurance companies are vigilant in investigating and prosecuting hard personal injury fraud cases. This form of fraud is often punishable with severe civil and criminal penalties.
Ways of Committing Personal Injury Fraud
Personal injury fraud can occur in different situations and different contexts. Some of the typical ways of engaging in personal injury fraud are:
- Filing or providing false information in an insurance claim
- Committing fraud while applying for healthcare
- Submitting a frivolous lawsuit
- Bribing or hiring a medical practitioner to give a false statement regarding an injury
- Using fake injury information to seek disability or worker’s compensation
- Exaggerating the extent of an injury
- Seeking compensation for a previous injury not related to an accident
- Seeking excessive compensation than the losses incurred
Civil and Criminal Penalties of Personal Injury Fraud in Florida
Committing personal injury fraud could trigger certain actions from the insurance company:
- The insurance company may deny you a claim: This means that the company will not compensate you for all the losses associated with the claim. Denial of an award from a claim is the least severe punishment for personal injury fraud.
- Cancellation of Insurance Policy: Your insurance may no longer be willing to have you as their customer. Insurers report fraudulent insurance claims to the state department of insurance. Your insurer may cancel your coverage without prior notice if you engage in personal injury fraud. Committing personal injury fraud would also make it hard for you to obtain insurance coverage in the future.
- Revocation of the lawsuit award or settlement: Your insurer may request a refund of the compensation awarded through fraud. The insurer may file a lawsuit against you if you are unable to refund the full amount. Additionally, they can recover the losses covered due to your fraudulent claim and the costs of investigating the claim. If you cannot pay, the insurance company may garnish your wages or request a lien in court.
Filing a fraudulent personal injury claim in Florida may also attract felony or misdemeanor charges depending on the fraud’s severity. The majority of fraudulent, injury-related claims are misdemeanors under Florida law. For instance, you may face misdemeanor charges if you exaggerate your claim or misrepresent some facts.
If a fraudulent personal injury claim involves the destruction of property, you may face felony charges. Felony charges may apply if you stage an accident or destroy your vehicle through arson to make a claim. The potential penalties for a felony conviction are fines and jail time.
Shielding Yourself against Personal Injury Fraud Charges
Some of the steps that you should take to shield yourself against personal injury fraud charges are:
- Informing the police about an accident
- Gathering evidence regarding the accident
- Seeking witness statements and testimonies
- Contacting a personal injury attorney
- Contacting your insurers and providing correct facts
Legal Defenses for Personal Injury Fraud Charges
For you to be guilty of personal injury fraud, you must have committed the crime intentionally. This means that you had a fraudulent intent when you committed the crime. You can fight personal injury fraud charges by stating that:
- You made a genuine mistake while stating the accident’s facts
- You had no fraudulent intent
- You thought the information was true and had no intent to lie
A Florida Personal Injury Attorney Can Help you With Your Case
You may face personal injury fraud charges when you least expect. Insurance companies and the police are zealous in prosecuting this offense that they, at times, accuse innocent people of this fraud. At Fetterman & Associates, we will protect your rights and ensure you get fair compensation for your damages. Contact one of our personal injury attorneys for a free consultation.