Auto Insurance Fraud
Los Angeles Auto Insurance Defense Attorney
California auto insurance fraud laws are covered in Penal Code Section 548, Penal Code Section 549, Penal Code Section 550, and Penal Code Section 551. The legal definition for auto insurance fraud is extremely complicated. In short, the crime is committed when a person does any act in order to obtain money through fraud from an auto insurance company.
Examples of auto insurance fraud include the following:
- You claim that their car was stolen when it was not. This often happens when a vehicle is leased, or owned, and either the value of the vehicle has decreased, or the person can no longer afford the payments on the car.
- When you claim an accident occurred when it did not to get money.
- When you have a legitimate accident, however, you pile on damage that previously occurred.
Because of the high instance of insurance fraud, the insurance companies now fund law enforcement and prosecutors in special units to go after those who they suspect of committing insurance fraud. Unfortunately, in many instance the independence of prosecutors is pushed aside and case are filing against a person who is merely suspected of insurance fraud.
The penalties for committing a California auto insurance fraud include the very real possibility of a long stint in State prison, substantial fines, lose of employment and a criminal record.
If you have had a search warrant executed against you or your bank accounts, have been arrested or are under investigation for a Los Angeles auto insurance fraud defense attorney, then contact Michael Kraut at (323) 464-6453 for a free and confidential consultation. Prior to opening his firm, Mr. Kraut was a senior prosecutor in the elite Major Fraud’s Division of the District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Kraut was educated at Harvard Law School and was a white collar prosecutor. Now he provides aggressive defense for his clients charged with a Los Angeles auto insurance fraud.
In most cases the prosecutor will file auto insurance fraud charges by filing several counts of California Penal Code Section 550 PC and at least one count of violating Section 810 of the Business and Professions Code. The elements of the charges are actually quite simple. There are two very clear cut elements.
- That you submitted a fraudulent claim to an insurance company with full knowledge of the fraud, and
- at the time you submitted the claim you did so with the intent to defraud the insurance company out of money.
As explained previously, the intent to defraud means that you either provided false information or you failed to provide “material” information that you were required to provide to the insurance company.
The Penal Code delineates certain offenses associated with auto insurance fraud in California.
California Penal Code Section 548 PC – makes it illegal to intentionally damaging, or disposing of your property, or the property of another person in order to submit an insurance claim.
California Penal Code Section 549 PC – This section makes it a crime to knowingly refer another person to an auto body shop or a medical professional with the intent that they file an insurance claim. This section is often used to charge chiropractors with auto insurance fraud, doctors or physicians with auto insurance fraud. In some instances, prosecutors have even charged lawyers or attorneys with insurance fraud.
California Penal Code Section 550 PC – This section is the most common charge filed against a person suspected of a Los Angeles auto insurance fraud. Penal Code Section 550 PC prevents fraudulent insurance claims for a property loss or a personal injury. This includes the signing of any document necessary to file an insurance claim if you know the information to be false. It is not necessary that the document be presented to the insurance company, only that it be prepared with the intent to provide it to the company. The code section is also used if a person “stages” an accident in order to submit any false insurance claim. Lastly, prosecutors also use this section if you claim to live in an area that you do not just so that you can get a cheaper insurance premium.
California Penal Code Section 551 PC – This section makes it a crime for auto repair shops or dealers to offer insurance adjusters a kickback or commission to refer someone to their shop.
California Business and Professions Code Section 810 B&P - This code section is used when Dentists are accused with insurance fraud, or doctors are charged with insurance fraud, or any other health care professional knowingly commits a health care insurance fraud by submitting false claims or telling patients to give false information to an insurance carrier to get a claim paid.
Punishment for Auto Insurance Fraud in California
The punishment for committing a Los Angeles auto insurance fraud is very severe. If you are an attorney or a physician, the penalties are even more severe because you will loose your professional licenses. California auto insurance fraud laws are wobblers. The prosecutor can elect to file the charge as a felony or a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanor punishment – Misdemeanors will be punished with a jail sentence of up to one year in county jail, a fine, and probation as well a the serious potential for the lose of a professional license.
Felony punishment – A felony conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years. You will need to be on formal probation and report to a probation officer. The fines can be up to $10,000 and the court can order you to pay full restitution. In the case of health care professionals, restitution could be in the millions of dollars.