Florida consistently is among the top states for insurance scams. Some of the headlines are people claiming damages that never happened, faking injuries, and filing dozens of claims that can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. These are critical cases that drive the costs of insurance up in the state that restricts the treatment and compensation available to Floridians who are legitimately hurt in accidents. While huge cases often make the evening news, the vast majority of insurance fraud in the state is much smaller in scope and much more difficult to prevent. Often, it is up to the courts and attorneys to scrutinize the facts and identify fraudulent claims.
One of the primary tasks of an attorney handling a car accident case in Florida is to verify the authenticity of the events leading to the accident. Sometimes, this is an easy process, but often figuring out how and why an accident happened requires a thorough examination of the facts and individuals who were involved the accident. Traumatic experiences like car accidents can alter a person’s memory and the way they may recall details. In some accidents, a person’s memory of how the incident happened may be entirely inaccurate. This makes the task of a car accident lawyer substantially more challenging.
Types of Car Insurance Fraud
One of the most common forms of car insurance fraud involves individuals claiming injuries they did not suffer. For example, soft tissue injuries can be very difficult to diagnose and something like a strained neck or back can lead to significant changes in how a claim is settled. Many fraudulent injuries are exposed when video of an accident demonstrates that the injury is unlikely at best. Another common form of fraud involves claiming damages to a vehicle that did not happen due to the accident. Drivers will sometimes claim existing damages or will cause additional damages after the fact to drive up the value of the claim.
We have even seen cases in which an injured person claims to have been struck by another driver only to find out later that the individual caused the injuries themself and the accident never happened. Video evidence will show damage to the vehicle before and after the accident, preventing fraudulent claims of property damage. Some of the largest fraud busts in Florida over the last decade involve individuals intentionally getting into accidents and filing claims for profit.
One of the most challenging situations to stop fraud happens when insurance company adjusters are in league with fraudulent individuals through false claims. While it seems that insurance adjusters wouldn’t participate in these schemes, it happens more often than you would think. Florida police officers involved in fraudulent insurance claims have been caught working with insurance adjusters and individuals to defraud insurance companies.
Protecting Yourself from Insurance Fraud
One of the best ways you can protect yourself and your family from insurance fraud is to install a dash camera in your vehicle. A dash camera can record the moments before, during, and after an accident, making it much easier to prove the facts later. You will quickly make up the cost of the camera should you ever need to prove that you didn’t cause an accident.
How Dash Cameras Work
A dash camera is a relatively simple device. They typically attach to the inside of your windshield behind the rearview mirror and are hard-wired into the vehicle’s electrical system so you don’t have cables running all over the cabin. When you are driving, the camera is constantly recording data.
Many dash cameras on the market feature G-Sensors that will automatically store video in the event of a detectable impact. Some cameras will save files simply because you hit the brakes hard while others won’t save files until a significant crash happens.
In the event of a crash, you have a saved copy of the video at hand that you can easily provide to your attorney and insurance company to verify your version of the facts. Courts in Florida allow dash camera evidence to be admissible and the footage can alter the outcome of a case.
Types of Cameras
The most basic dash camera focuses forward and records only incidents in front of your vehicle. Depending on the statistics used, rear-end collisions account for about 30 percent of all vehicle crashes. To put that in perspective, similar studies account for about 18 percent of accidents involving side collisions and 2 percent accounting for head-on collisions, the types of crashes these cameras will capture.
Two-camera systems are ideal for Florida drivers. These cameras have a lens facing forward and one facing the rear of the vehicle. Using a two-camera system allows you to capture footage of almost any type of car accident. Defrauding a victim of a car accident is significantly more difficult when they have conclusive, admissible video evidence available.
Three Camera Systems
Three-camera systems are also available. These systems use a forward-facing, rear-facing, and interior-facing camera. The average driver probably does not need this type of system although it can produce some comprehensive videos. But rideshare drivers should consider installing a three-camera system to ensure protection*. These cameras will capture front and rear accidents and the behavior of passengers in your car that may contribute to accidents.
*Florida law requires that rideshare drivers obtain the consent of passengers before recording the trip. Drivers can be held in violation of laws for recording passengers in a rideshare vehicle.
There are lots of options out there for different types of dash cameras. Some of them boast all sorts of features, many of which are of limited practical use. The key things you should look for are high-quality cameras that are capable of recording at 1080P resolution or higher and provide a usable field of view. Some cameras use extreme wide-angle lenses that can distort images severely. It is important to have a camera system that records and stores files automatically. This way, you are sure to have a copy of the video, even if you are not physically able to recover the camera. Many cameras today provide Cloud storage for crash videos, a useful feature when dealing with severe and catastrophic injuries.
How Dash Cams Help Rideshare Drivers
Laws in Florida require that rideshare drivers have specific coverage limits that are significantly higher than the limits required from an average drivers in the state. Unfortunately, the coverage rideshare drivers carry has been highly publicized, making these drivers a target for individuals looking to defraud insurance companies by causing an accident they claim is not their fault.
Rideshare drivers have experienced people who suddenly brake, hoping to cause a rear-end accident they can claim injuries for. At-fault individuals have made claims that the rideshare driver was using their cellphone or otherwise distracted, resulting in negligence on their part regardless of the other driver’s actions. There have even been situations when a passenger has lunged for the steering wheel of a rideshare driver’s car, causing an accident.
Why Insurance Fraud Matters
There is no such thing as a victimless crime. Many people caught trying to defraud insurance companies claim that the injured person wasn’t financially harmed as a justification for their crime. The truth is that insurance companies spend lots of money fighting fraud which increases the cost of insurance coverage for individuals. By some recent calculations, fraud investigation and the losses from fraud account for $400 to $700 in costs of premiums per person annually.
In some of the most troubling cases, people who are injured in a car accident are also defrauded by the individual who is responsible for causing damages. When this happens, victims lose significant amounts of coverage and benefits and may receive no settlement at all depending on how the fraud was committed. We’ve seen everything from fake IDs and fabricated insurance policies to identity theft handling Florida personal injury claims.
As attorneys, it is our task to figure out how an individual was injured and who was responsible. Sometimes this process is a matter of noticing differences in timelines, changing stories, or injuries or damages that are not consistent with the type of accident that happened. Sometimes, we have to trust our experiences when factoring in how to proceed with a claim.
Preventing fraud will require that all of us do our part. A dash camera might not seem like something that is an important investment until after you are in an accident and the responsible person is making false claims that may prevent you from recovering your losses. Thieves continue to find sophisticated ways to defraud insurance companies and they rarely care about the people who are hurt in the process. A dash camera gives you one extra layer of protection against fraud.
If you are involved in an automobile accident and you are injured, you should seek medical help and contact our law firm as soon as possible. Our attorneys will work quickly to gather evidence and help you from the start.