Auto Insurance Fraud Lawyer in San Diego
What Is Auto Insurance Fraud?
Auto insurance fraud is any act that leads to you receiving money from an insurance company through fraudulent means. Insurance fraud can be committed through a variety of means such as submitting a claim based on an exaggerated, false, or deliberate loss.
Fraud laws in California carry severe punishment, especially to those charged with a felony. Because these penalties can be life-altering, you need representation from an early stage in your case. The most important step to take is to find counsel before you speak with any investigator. Fraud cases take months or years to develop. Statements made early on can come back to have serious consequences if the case goes to a prosecutor.
How do the authorities find out about auto insurance fraud? Typically, the case is brought to the district attorney’s attention from an insurance company’s internal investigation of a suspicious claim.
Contact our San Diego auto insurance lawyer at (858) 281-4605 today!
Common Types of Auto Insurance Fraud in California
There are countless factual situations that could lead to auto insurance fraud. For an individual, a case could be brought against you if you claim excessive damage from an accident. Filing a false lost-car claim or claim an accident occurred when it did not.
There are also several situations where a group of people are involved in the fraud.
- Two people intentionally causing a rear-end collision either between themselves or with an innocent third party.
- Medical professionals filing false injury or inflated claims.
- Attorneys forcing insurance companies to settle due to false representation of the facts of the case. These collusive acts can also lead to organized crime charges.
Elements Prosecution Must Prove in an Auto Insurance Fraud Case
To be convicted of auto insurance fraud, the prosecutor must prove the following two facts or elements:
- You knowingly submitted a fraudulent claim to an insurance company; and
- You filed this claim with intent to defraud—for money.
What Is Intent to Defraud?
Basically, intent to defraud means making false representations or concealing the truth for financial gain.
What Are the Applicable Code Sections
The California legislature has implemented several statutes that the prosecutor can utilize in bringing an auto insurance claim. Here is a brief explanation of these sections:
- PC 548 applies when you intentionally damage your own car or someone else’s to pursue a fraudulent insurance claim.
- PC 549 applies when you make a referral to a doctor, mechanic, chiropractor, attorney, etc., knowing he/she will file a fraudulent claim.
- PC 550 this is the section utilized most frequently when the prosecutor is pursuing auto insurance fraud against an individual who either falsely claims personal injury or property loss.
- PC 551 applies when there is a fraudulent relationship/referral situation between an auto shop/mechanic and insurance company employees/adjusters, i.e., kickbacks.
- Note: California’s Business and Professions Code 810 will be utilized if a medical professional is involved with health care insurance fraud claims.
Possible Defenses for Auto Insurance Fraud in CA
Because a fraud case is very fact sensitive and typically based on circumstantial evidence it is difficult to establish intent to defraud. Maybe you did not mean to misrepresent your situation or you simply made a mistake? Another common assertion is that there is not sufficient evidence. There must be concrete evidence.
California Auto Insurance Fraud Penalties
In California, an auto insurance fraud charge is considered a “wobbler” (either a misdemeanor or a felony). The prosecutor will decide how to proceed based upon the facts and circumstances of your case.
Depending upon what you are convicted of, you could face informal or formal probation, jail or prison time of 6 months to 5 years, and also significant fines ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. Additionally, your employment and professional licensing options can be impacted.
Note: If you are able to make restitution (pay back what you fraudulently obtained), then the prosecutor may seek a reduction in charges or suggest a more lenient sentence.
Because insurance fraud can seriously impact your life working with a San Diego auto insurance lawyer is essential. We will provide a free and confidential consultation to discuss your options and determine the best approach to your situation.
16 Counts, Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Minor Sentence Reduced, All Other Charges Dropped
Client charged with multiple sexual assault offenses, facing 16 years in prison. Convicted of One Count of Sex with a Minor, 2 years Jail, All other charges dismissed.
24 Count, Insurance Fraud Conspiracy, Grand Theft in excess of $250,000 Reduced Sentence, Other Charges Dropped
Client charged as head of conspiracy to present false claims to insurance companies, losses over $250,000. Client facing 22 years in State Prison. Convicted of two counts of insurance fraud, sentenced to 2 years in jail, remaining charges dismissed.
Assault with semi-automatic Firearm, Criminal Threat, Domestic Violence Dismissed Charges
Charges exposed client to 8 years in State Prison and two serious strike felonies. Court dismisses all gun related charges at preliminary hearing, client pleads to domestic violence charge only, no custody.
Felony Domestic Violence Arrest All criminal charges dismissed
After arrest, defense investigation reveals that spouse was aggressor and caused harm to client, all criminal charges dismissed.
Felony Gun Possession, Felony Child Abuse Charges Dismissed
Client charged with felony gun possession and endangering life of a child being in illegal possession of loaded weapons in the home. Potential 6 year Prison sentence. Child endangerment charges dismissed, NO Custody.
Possession of 5KG of Methamphetamine while Armed with Loaded Gun Probation and Other Charges Dismissed.
Client facing 4 counts of possessing large quantity of Methamphetamine for sale and a loaded gun with no serial number. District Attorney offer of 6 years in State Prison. Ultimate resolution was a plea to gun possession only, probation and credit for time served with no additional jail time. All other charges dismissed.
Restraining Order, Accusations of Sexual Assault Case Dismissed
Defense Victory at trial for restraining order, Judge dismissed complaint against client, finding victims allegations and testimony not-credible.
Shoplifting from Naval Commissary Case Dismissed
Case Dismissed, record sealed in Federal Court
Welfare Fraud No Custody, Case Dismissed Following Probation
6 Counts of Fraud by Misrepresentation and Perjury. Possible 4 year prison sentence maximum. Defense negotiated with prosecution for Diversion Program.
Marijuana Possession for Sale/Transportation Plea to Simple Possession, Probation and Fines,
½ pound of Marijuana, $5,000, baggies, scales and Marijuana storage paraphernalia, potential 4 years in jail, Defense argued insufficient evidence to prove sales of Marijuana or Drug Trafficking and filed motion to return all seized property.