Auto insurance fraud is something that it very common in San Diego. This is because it is often a common mistake by one of the parties or a split second decision that they now regret at a later time.
The main penal codes that are used in California for this type of fraud are Penal Codes 550 and 551.
California Penal Code 550 Auto Insurance Fraud
Penal Code 550 is the statute used to prosecute insurance fraud and there are multiple different theories for the prosecutor to convict on.
The first is that the defendant knowing presented a false or fraudulent claim for payment of loss or injury. This theory is based on direct knowledge of the occurrence and the defendant actually personally making the claim themselves. The two most common example of this occurs as follows.
An individual gets in a car accident without insurance. Often the insurance has just lapsed or they have forgotten to renew it. That person then gets insurance online right after the accident then calls the insurance company and says the accident happened later than it actually did.
The other example is where an individual gets in a car accident without insurance and they call their insurance company and they say the accident happened the next day when they actually had insurance. Sometimes they get the other party to agree to this by using sympathy on the other party. These two types of fraud are very common.
The next major theory they use is an aiding and abetting or a conspiracy theory to convict. Like the above example, this is when the other party is convinced to play along. The unfortunate thing about this type of scenario is that it is usually someone who is just doing the right thing and now they are charged with a crime.
San Diego Auto Insurance Fraud Attorney – Recent Case
A recent example from Ozols Law Firm is as follows. Our client was driving to the airport about to go on vacation. When someone hit him. That individual said that they had insurance and they would call them in a couple days with the details. When our client got back from vacation, he called the person who hit him who now admitted he didn’t have insurance. He said that he was so sorry for what happened and that this was going to ruin his life, he had no money and asked our client if they could just please lie and say it happened at a later date. Our client had his own insurance, did the claim through his own insurance but played along because he felt bad for the other individual. About a year later, when the investigation was complete, our client was charged with multiple felonies, under the last theory discussed above, for the roll he played in this event.
It goes to show that even if you are doing something nice for someone else, you can end up having felonies for your part in the process. Our client had no criminal record and Ozols Law Firm was eventually able to get his case dismissed after a hard battle in the courtroom and our client’s willingness to show that he was a good person and that he could be very productive in the community. Stories like this are all too common so people need to know to be careful.
If you are in an accident without insurance, it is not a good idea to attempt this. It should be known that insurance companies have an automatic red flag in their system if insurance was just renewed within a couple weeks of an accident, so any claim where that occurs will be investigated. Getting in an accident without insurance can be stressful at the time, but it is never a good idea to lie because one simple lie over the phone could result in being charged with multiple felonies.
Businesses and Auto Insurance Fraud
The answer to that question is yes. There are several penal codes including PC 549 and 551 that can hold businesses or repair shops responsible for submitting a false claim or destroying any pieces of evidence. If you are a repair shop and someone tells you that they have made a false claim, or the circumstances surrounding the claim seem suspicious, feel free to call an attorney as soon as possible so you can know your legal rights as well.
If you have been charged with Auto Insurance Fraud in California, call San Diego Auto Insurance Fraud lawyer Alex Ozols for a free consultation.