Insurance fraud is a serious crime in the state of California. You can be arrested for it. It’s not just a “civil” matter but a criminal one, and it covers a broad spectrum of insurance schemes that your charge might fall under. There are many different types of insurance and each one has the potential for fraud:
– Auto insurance
– Homeowner’s insurance
– Property insurance
– Life insurance
– Health insurance
Each one of these insurances pays out a certain amount when an adverse event happens. People who seek to defraud the state OR a private insurance company can be charged under this law, and if you’ve been charged there’s no time to waste in hiring an attorney. Not only can you lose your settlement – of course – but you might be facing jail time and other unpleasantness.
Misdemeanor or Felony
Some cases of insurance fraud are prosecuted as misdemeanors and some are prosecuted as felonies. Which one you are charged with will be determined by the prosecutor who understands the laws and criteria for both types of crime. A felony charge will be a more serious one, but don’t take a misdemeanor charge lightly either. You could lose settlement money you desperately needed, and if you’re falsely accused of insurance fraud, this can be detrimental to your life. Don’t let it happen.
Which one you are charged with will be based on research done by the Department of Insurance.There are also organizations in law enforcement that work to uncover these types of crime: Investigation Division and Fraud Division, to name just two. When the fraud gets very specific, then so do the investigative agencies that must investigate the fraud.
Examples of Insurance Fraud
Arson is a common type of insurance fraud. Your fire insurance will write out a huge check for fire damages, but in some cases people start their own fires and then collect on the insurance. This is a clear case of not just arson but also insurance fraud, and both crimes are punishable in California. If you’re being accused of something like this, it’s a very big deal. Criminal fighters take a dim view of people who cause destruction to property and other people for profit.
Another example might be faking an injury after a car accident to collect on insurance. You might claim to be more injured than you really are so that you can get more money out of the accident. Some people walk away injury free from car accidents and then claim later on to be injured. This is not something someone should ever do, but it happens every day, and even these people need legal representation.
And remember, you won’t just be tried in a criminal court. Insurance companies can turn right around and sue you if they suspect insurance fraud. The laws here are covered under RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). The amount of damages awarded from those cases can be astronomical and nothing that a defendant should have to face without a lawyer beside them.
Hiring a lawyer
The sooner you hire a lawyer the better. The state of California takes a very aggressive stance against fraud, and it protects insurance companies and other state agencies against the actions of people who try to defraud these companies or institutions. If you’ve been falsely accused, or if you’re not guilty of what they say you are, then you need a lawyer. If you are guilty, you need a lawyer even more, because there are things that your lawyer can do for you that will enable you to get lighter penalties or even have the charges reduced if certain circumstances come to light.
No one should have to face any kind of fraud charge alone. Lawyers are skilled at knowing how to navigate these cases. Going it alone is going to be detrimental to your case and eventually your quality of life. If you’ve been accused of any kind of insurance fraud, get on the phone today and call a lawyer that can help you. No matter what the circumstances of your case, there’s a lawyer who can help you in the long run.