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Auto Insurance Fraud Taking a Personal Approach to Law


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.

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.

Our San Diego auto insurance fraud attorneys have helped hundreds of individuals facing the most difficult time in their life, so contact us today.

Successful Defense Cases

  • Sentence Reduced, All Other Charges Dropped 16 Counts, Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Minor

    Client charged with multiple sexual assault offenses, facingĀ 16 years in prison. Convicted of One Count of Sex with a Minor, 2 years Jail, All other charges dismissed.

  • Reduced Sentence, Other Charges Dropped 24 Count, Insurance Fraud Conspiracy, Grand Theft in excess of $250,000

    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.

  • Dismissed with No Jail Time, Probation Only Assault with Deadly Weapon, Robbery, Burglary

    Client charged with multiple counts, potential 14 year sentence. Released with no custody.

  • Dismissed Charges Assault with semi-automatic Firearm, Criminal Threat, Domestic Violence

    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.

  • 30 Days Probation, Case Dismissed. Attempted Murder

    Client charged with Attempted Murder in connection with the death of her husband suffering from a fatal illness. Defense investigation revealed that statements of witnesses were unreliable and unfounded.

  • Case Dismissed Auto Insurance Fraud

    Naval Officer accused of making fraudulent insurance claims on his vehicle, charged with three felony offenses. Case Dismissed after defense investigation and negotiation with District Attorney.

  • Case Dismissed on Motion Auto Insurance Fraud

    Client charged with two felony counts of Auto Insurance Fraud.

  • Not Guilty. Case Dismissed. Burglary, Theft, Identity Theft

    Client was charged with criminal Burglary, Grand Theft and Identity Theft from local retailers. Defense investigation revealed client was not individual shown on security cameras

  • Reduced Charge Plea Deal Child Molestation Accusation

    Career Professional Client facing child molestation charges, requiring lifetime sex registration. Defense negotiated plea deal for non-offender charge of misdemeanor assault.

  • Not Guilty, Client Acquitted Of All Charges Child Pornography

    Client on Probation for Sexual Assault. Arrest and accusation of child pornography possession. Defense employs forensic investigation of all seized evidence and finds no evidence of child pornography.