Los Angeles Insurance Fraud Attorneys
While the term “white-collar crime” is sometimes downplayed by the media as lesser offenses, the charges associated with those offenses can be significant. Being charged with and convicted of a white-collar crime such as insurance fraud can have serious ramifications and a huge impact on your future. To ensure that your rights are protected, and your best interests aren’t ignored in a court of law, it is important that you immediately contact a defense attorney if you’re facing any charges associated with insurance fraud.
If you or a loved one has been charged with any form of insurance fraud, do not attempt to represent yourself, or rely on court-appointed legal counsel. Public defenders often have extremely busy schedules and cannot give you the level of service that a dedicated defense attorney can typically provide. No matter what kind of insurance fraud you or someone you know has been accused of, retaining the services of an experienced defense attorney is imperative.
If you stand accused of insurance fraud, call the Los Angeles white-collar crime attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP right away at (213) 688-0460 to discuss your case and your legal options.
In general, insurance fraud is defined under California law as any action that seeks to receive compensation from an insurance company on untrue grounds. For example, someone filing a workers’ compensation claim who was not actually injured could be committing insurance fraud. Similarly, a claim that exaggerates about damage from a car collision can also be considered insurance fraud.
For insurance fraud to happen in California, two elements are required:
- A person must have the intent to defraud an insurance company and do so knowingly;
- A person must act on that intent, such as by filing a fraudulent claim.
Both elements must be present and proven for a defendant to be convicted of insurance fraud. No actual loss must occur – so a claim can be denied or under investigation when insurance fraud charges are filed against an individual.
In California, there are numerous ways that someone could defraud an insurance company. Essentially, any kind of insurance can be the target for fraudulent actions and claims. Some of the most common types of insurance fraud include:
- Auto Insurance Fraud – This usually falls into either collision fraud, which involves purposefully getting into a collision to file a claim, or property fraud, which includes things like lying about damage to a vehicle.
- Medical Insurance Fraud – Purposefully being injured in order to file a claim or exaggerating about injuries can all be forms of medical insurance fraud. This can also include lying about disabilities.
- Life Insurance Fraud – This type of fraud can include things like a staged or questionable death. Misrepresentations about health and other information on an application for insurance may also result in a fraud charge.
- Workers’ Compensation Fraud – Suspicious claims can come from employees and employers alike. Inflating medical expenses or exaggerating injuries can both be forms of workers’ compensation fraud.
- Property Insurance Fraud – This can include suspicious theft, such as someone stealing from his own business and reporting it as theft in order to collect insurance money. Arson and other forms of property damage can also be fraudulent.
The penalty for insurance fraud will depend on how the fraud was committed. There are three main ways people commit insurance fraud: fraudulent claims, fraudulent claims involving healthcare benefits, and fraudulent damage of insured property. The penalty for each crime is different, because they are not considered equal in their severity.
A fraudulent insurance claim is a “wobbler,” as in it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. For a misdemeanor charge, which means the money involved was less than $950, you may be facing:
- Up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
However, for a felony charge, where more than $950 was involved, your penalties could include:
- Between two to five years in jail
- A fine of $50,000, or of double the amount of the fraud, depending on which is greater
If you are being charged with filing a fraudulent insurance claim involving healthcare benefits, then your punishment might be:
- Up to six months in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
Fraudulent damage of insured property is always charged as a felony. Being convicted of this crime could result in:
- Between two or five years in jail
- A fine of $50,000
In addition, being convicted of any of these crimes will most likely require restitution -- this means you will be required to pay back any money you received through fraud. Having to do so, on top of the steep fines and the time in jail, can completely ruin your life. That is why you need to work with an attorney who can create an airtight defense.
Insurance fraud is an intent crime. The prosecution must prove that you intended to commit fraud. Insurance is a complicated system, involving multiple forms, all of which use dense language and can be easily misunderstood. Countless people accidentally fill out forms incorrectly, but that does not mean that they are guilty of insurance fraud. That is why intent is so important. You should not face years in prison because you accidentally checked the box or signed the wrong form.
Attacking the intent is one of the most common ways to defend against insurance fraud charges. After all, the prosecution has the burden of proof. This means that they must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you did intend to defraud the insurer. Your defense needs to poke holes in the prosecution’s narrative to make sure there is reasonable doubt.
However, there is nothing simple about defending against such a serious crime. Your attorney will need to perform an in-depth investigation. He will need to know how best to undermine the prosecution, or how to negotiate a plea deal that allows you to walk away with a lesser charge. All of that requires a great deal of time, dedication, and work. That is why you need to contact one of the best criminal defense teams in Los Angeles.
Insurance fraud is a serious charge, and you need a serious defense to protect yourself if you’ve been accused. A conviction could mean years behind bars, thousands of dollars in fines, and a tarnished reputation. Thankfully, our firm has the expertise you need to get a lessened sentence, or walk away without any charges at all. Call Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP today at (213) 688-0460 and let us fight for you.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.