| Read Time: 4 minutes | Car Accident

Some people lie. It’s a sad fact, but one we need to deal with. If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, the other motorist might falsely claim that you were to blame. Even worse, the police officer who responds to the accident might agree with the motorist and tag you as responsible for the incident. You may be thinking, what do I do if there is a false car accident claim against me or a bodily injury claim against me?

Fortunately, motorists victimized by false auto accident claims do have options. Below, our car accident lawyers review the information every motorist needs to know.

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Categories of Fraud

There are two main categories of fraudulent auto insurance claims. Although it is difficult to avoid fraud, you can provide your insurer with enough information to alert them of the need for a fraud investigation. 

Hard Fraud

Hard fraud comes with serious consequences. It occurs when one or more people stage accidents or injuries. A claimant engages in causing intentional damage to claim money for the damage. Engaging in hard fraud comes with civil and criminal penalties. 

Soft Fraud

Soft fraud is more commonly encountered, and stems from legitimate accident claims. However, in cases like these, the claimant exaggerates or distorts the details of their claim. For example, a claimant can exaggerate their injuries to recover more money than is warranted by their actual injuries. Claimants also commit soft fraud by faking injuries. They typically do this by using a pre-existing injury—that did not happen as the result of the accident—as the basis for a new claim. 

Even if you didn’t take an active role in the fraud, being on the receiving end of a false auto accident claim can increase your insurance rates.

The Officer’s Determination of Fault Isn’t Binding

When an officer responds to a crash scene, he or she should interview witnesses and inspect the vehicle to fully understand what happened. An officer might also make a preliminary determination of fault. Many people are panicked that an officer has fingered them as the responsible party when they were actually victims.

We have good news: this is just the officer’s opinion. Obviously, the cop did not see the accident, so he is not a witness. And the officer’s opinion does not carry legal weight.

Liability is always something that insurance companies need to hash out by reviewing the evidence themselves. If they can’t agree on liability, then the case might go to a trial.

Your Insurer Will Investigate

If you have car insurance, your insurer will need to determine whether you are at fault for the wreck. They will assign an insurance adjuster to your case, and this person will interview you to get your side of the story. They will also interview other witnesses and possibly look at the cars involved.

Rest assured, your insurer is committed to smoking out fraudulent claims, including a fake hit-and-run. They don’t want to pay compensation if they don’t have to, so they have an incentive to thoroughly review all relevant facts and identify who truly is at fault.

After an investigation, however, your insurer might agree that you are at least partially at fault for the collision. If so, the insurer will pay compensation to people who are injured. There is not much to do even if you think the claim is fraudulent. After all, this is why you carry insurance, to protect yourself in the event someone makes a claim.

Your Insurer Might Defend You

Sometimes, insurance companies cannot agree on fault. Your insurer might believe that you are blameless, while the other driver’s insurer is 100% committed to blaming you. In this situation, the case might go to trial.

Most insurance policies state that the insurer will hire and pay for an attorney to defend you in the case. Read your policy to make sure. Of course, the insurer typically reserves the right to pick the lawyer and to decide whether to settle the case (and for how much). But they will usually pay for someone to defend you, which is a huge relief.

You Need to Defend Yourself if Uninsured

If you find yourself facing a false insurance claim, it’s advisable to consult with legal counsel. A legal team can conduct an independent investigation, gathering evidence or witnesses to support your defense.

Although insurance is required to register a vehicle in Georgia, some people refuse to carry it or cancel it soon after registering. Anyone uninsured is responsible for their own defense.

This means that you would be responsible for:

  • Investigating your case, including contacting and interviewing witnesses
  • Obtaining key pieces of physical evidence, such as inspecting the vehicles involved in the crash
  • Hiring and paying for an attorney on your own or defending yourself pro se in a lawsuit

Refusing to carry insurance is a big risk, and if you just try to ignore the lawsuit the other side can seek a default judgment.
The good news for the uninsured is that the odds are low that the other driver can get a lawyer to represent them. Although you can be sued personally, many lawyers see this as too big of a hassle. Many defendants don’t have enough resources to make getting sued a valuable use of time.

Your Insurance Premiums Can Increase

Georgia law prevents an insurer from raising premiums when an insured is not at fault for the accident. However, premiums can spike if you were at fault for a wreck. The decision to raise premiums lies with the insurer. Drivers who have negative marks on their records—such as accidents—usually see an increase, but the amount depends on several factors.

Based on our experience, even one accident on a record causes premiums to skyrocket. A report from CBS News found that drivers with at least one accident on their record saw an increase of around 40%. If a driver makes two claims in a year, then their premiums almost double.

Contact Us For Your Free Consultation

MG Law is well versed in all areas of car accident law, and we have helped many injured victims obtain compensation. We can help you with your false auto accident claim, too. If you were injured in a crash, please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Author Photo

Michael Geoffroy’s law practice focuses on auto collisions, premises liability, wrongful death, and catastrophic injury. He stands up for the cause of justice throughout Georgia and on behalf of his clients every day. He is a leader in both the courtroom and the community, having been recognized numerous times for his involvement in each.