One of the fastest growing crimes in New York is directly related to the state’s no-fault coverage law. Criminals will purposely crash into a vehicle, fake injuries with the help of crooked doctors and then file fraudulent claims to insurance companies. In fact, a study shows that New Yorkers have paid approximately $1 billion in extra auto-insurance premiums over the last four years because of these no-fault scams.
Under New York’s no-fault law, most accident victims are able to obtain insurance benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident. The “no-fault" coverage provides reimbursement for certain economic damages that are sustained in an accident, including medical expenses, lost income and other reasonable expenses like prescriptions and travel costs. While this law was originally intended to benefit the victims of accidents, it has tragically become a resource for criminals to gain easy money. This is such a huge problem in New York that auto insurance premiums in the state have risen to 53% more than the national average.
No-fault insurance fraud happens more commonly than you realize. A study by the Insurance Research Council found that nearly a fifth of all no-fault claims in 2010 had elements of fraud. Criminals have targeted this area of law as an easy way to get money because no-fault insurers must pay up to $50,000 to a victim of an auto accident regardless of fault. The number of fake car accidents and fake medical reports is steadily rising, and criminal gangs are cashing in on this loophole in the law.
Staged auto accidents can result in serious and very real injuries to the unsuspecting victims. For example, a 71-year-old grandmother was tragically killed in a staged accident in Queens last year. This accident was caused by a member of a crime ring who intentionally drove his car in to the woman’s vehicle, causing her to hit a tree and die. He was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in Queen Supreme Court, and similar fraudulent cases are popping up everywhere in courts throughout the state.
Just last month, authorities in New York charged 36 people with money laundering and racketeering in the largest fraud case to be uncovered involving the state’s no-fault insurance law. There are several bills that have been proposed to cut down on this devastating and costly form of fraud, but drivers on the roadways must still be prepared for an accident situation. If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, it is vitally important to secure the help of a Queens personal injury attorney who can carefully review your accident and help you file a claim.