The biggest mistake you can make is to lie to your lawyer about your personal injury claim. There are legal consequences for filing a fraudulent personal injury claim. Lying to your Plymouth personal injury attorney is not the only thing that can make your claim fraudulent; exaggerating your injuries and withholding relevant information also count. According to a report filed by ICBC, an estimated 10-20% of personal injury claims are exaggerated or fraudulent.
Filing a fraudulent personal injury case can lead to your insurance company denying your claim and dropping your coverage, the insurance company might demand that you pay them back the money they used to investigate your case and in some cases you might be subjected to punitive damages.
Defining Fraud in a Personal Injury Claim
A fraudulent personal injury claim is any action you take that is intended to cause an insurance company to pay you for an injury that does not exist, exaggerated injuries or injuries that are not directly related to your accident.
You can also be guilty of committing fraud if you intentionally hide useful information that you are legally bound to disclose or that are reasonable for you to disclose.
Types of Fraudulent Personal Injury Claims
Hard Insurance Fraud
This is also known as pre-meditated insurance fraud whereby you plan a way to defraud the insurance company. This usually involves taking some sort of deliberate action such as staging an accident or causing it.
Soft Insurance Fraud
This is also known as opportunistic fraud and happens when you make an exaggerated claim. This ranges from exaggerating the extent of your injuries to lying about how much you have incurred in damages.
Consequences of Filing a Fraudulent Personal Injury Claim
The consequences of filing a fraudulent personal injury claim can be both civil and criminal. They include:
Denial of Your Claim
This one is self-explanatory. The insurance company will not compensate you for injuries that are self-inflicted or exaggerated.
Cancellation of Your Coverage
The insurance company will drop you as a customer even if you filed an insurance claim with them. Most insurance companies have a clause in their contracts that states they can drop a policyholder without notice at any time if they have proof that they committed insurance fraud.
You should also be aware that if the insurance company drops you as a policyholder because you tried to defraud them, they might report you to the state department of insurance. Once your name appears on their list, you may never be able to obtain insurance from any other insurance company again.
You Will Return Your Settlement Award
If they awarded you any money, the insurance company will want it back. If you cannot give them the full amount, they might file a lawsuit against you in order to recover the full amount of losses it incurred as a result of your fraudulent personal injury claim.
If you committed hard insurance fraud or your actions were egregious, they might also sue you for punitive damages. Punitive damages can quadruple the size of the claim the insurance company will have against you. If you cannot pay up, they might seek a court order that will prevent you from selling any of your assets without the insurance company being notified first. This way, they will be able to take any money you make from the proceeds.
Fines, Probation or Jail Time
Even if you do not live in Plymouth, MA, a fraudulent personal injury claim is still punishable regardless of the state you live in. At Kevin P Landry Law Offices, we have been in practice for more than 20 years and we have observed that most fraudulent personal injury cases are misdemeanors. This means they are typically exaggerated claims or misrepresentations of the claim. If this is the case, you might be fined, given probation or jail time.
If, however, you have been involved in hard insurance fraud such as destruction of property, you may be convicted of a felony. This may result in fines or jail time.
We all know that honesty is the best policy but not everyone follows this rule. Being truthful in your personal injury case is very important. If you have been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you can talk to us by calling 508-746-2700 or by visiting our Plymouth, MA offices for a free initial consultation.