Financial times are tough these days, and tough times often push people to do things they would normally not do. If you get it into your head to try and create a fake accident by staging a slip and fall injury in a store or public place, then you should probably get that thought out of your head immediately. There is plenty of legal precedent out there to prosecute you for your fake accident, and you could face serious charges if you are convicted of insurance fraud.
It is estimated that insurance fraud costs the industry $40 billion per year, which explains why insurance premiums are always so high. Out of that $40 billion, it is estimated that $2 billion of it is attached to fake slip and fall accidents that scam artists get away with, but there are plenty of potential scammers who get caught as well. In the end, the chances of getting caught trying to utilize insurance fraud to line your wallet are very high and not worth it.
Two Reasons Not To Fake Your Fall
It Sets A Bad Precedent
Whenever attorneys talk to their clients about fake accidents, they warn their clients that these kinds of activities can create a bad legal precedent. If you are known for committing insurance fraud, then you may have a hard time getting compensation for a legitimate injury from a real slip and fall accident. When you put yourself in that kind of a hole, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in real medical bills that you may not be able to pay.
You Will Get Caught
There are several reasons why a fake slip and fall accident is a bad idea, but the most prominent reason is the increased use of surveillance cameras. A man in Deptford, New Jersey tried to claim that he slipped and fell in a puddle of water that was left lying on the floor of a local WalMart. But when the man was faced with watching himself walk through the puddle three times before staging his fall on the fourth pass, he had to confess to his crime.
Insurance fraud in New Jersey is a third-degree crime that can come with five to 10 years of prison time, and most states take this type of crime seriously enough to give the guilty party jail time and even fines. However, this kind of fraud also causes the cost of insurance to go up for everyone, and it can also lead to higher prices in retail stores. Most consumers understand the serious nature of fake slip and fall accidents, and that is why there are usually plenty of witnesses to a fraud.
A Legitimate Slip And Fall
The rising number of fake slip and fall accidents is making it more difficult for people who really fall and get injured to file successful claims. Instead of treating slip and fall accidents as serious claims, many insurance adjusters are forced to face each slip and fall claim with a high degree of skepticism. This can lead to victims being denied claims because of any type of activity that the adjuster deems to be suspicious.
A slip and fall accident occurs when the conditions in a facility lead to someone tripping or falling to the ground. In order for the fall to result in a civil lawsuit, it has to be reasonably accepted that the owner should have known about the conditions. This is one reason why scammers who go into parts of stores where they are not allowed to be and fake falls, are often either denied their claim, or they are prosecuted for criminal activity.
The conditions that can lead to a slip and fall incident are:
- A torn or loose rug
- Damaged flooring that does not have warning cones around it
- A wet floor without warning signs
- Equipment left in a busy walkway that causes a trip
- A floor that was recently waxed and no warning signs were placed to prevent people from walking on them
The conditions must exist long enough for the owner to know about them, and they must be in a part of the property where customers are allowed. Customers who go wandering into the store’s warehouse and get injured are often not compensated because of the number of warning signs alerting them to stay out of the area.
In a legitimate slip and fall case, the owner is clearly negligent and the conditions were clearly dangerous for some time. When dangerous conditions suddenly appear in a store and a slip and fall accident occurs, that is when investigators get suspicious.
The Unfortunate Victims
Proving a slip and fall case can sometimes be very difficult, even for people who legitimately slipped and fell due to dangerous flooring conditions. If you are walking behind someone in a store and they knock over a jug of water that spills right in front of you, there is a good chance that you will not be able to sue for a slip and fall settlement. While the conditions were dangerous and you did not fake your fall, it is unreasonable for the owner or manager of the property to respond to a spill that happens an instant before a fall.
Fraudsters Will Have To Deal With Insurance Investigators
In nearly every slip and fall accident, the victim will deal directly with an insurance company and not the property owner. The property owner will relay all of the information to the insurance company, and the insurance investigators will usually work alongside law enforcement to get to the bottom of the incident. All of these conditions add up to bad news for a scammer because it is easier today to spot fake slip and fall accidents than it ever has been.
Insurance investigators are extremely sophisticated, and they have modern equipment that can reveal the elements of a fall that most fakers would never anticipate. Many people who fake their slip and fall know that surveillance cameras are not allowed in dressing rooms or restrooms in a store, but that does not prevent investigators from getting to the truth.
After the investigation, the insurance company will either offer a settlement to the victim, or press charges for insurance fraud. As we mentioned earlier, insurance fraud is a serious offense in every state in the country. Apologizing for trying to scam the insurance company is often not going to be enough to satisfy the investigator. Insurance companies persecute fakers to deter others from trying the same type of action.
What Stores Are Doing About This
Stores with surveillance cameras are starting to put large signs at their entrances warning people that there are cameras in use. While this might seem to be an inconvenience to honest people, it does deter criminals. If your slip and fall accident is legitimate, then you should be glad there are cameras in place to capture the event. But if you plan on faking your slip and fall accident, you should know that you are being watched in just about every store in the country.
The best advice any lawyer can give their client is to not fake a slip and fall accident. Most faked accidents end up with the scammer in jail, and never get to the point of trying their luck in civil court. The consequences of faking a slip and fall accident are severe, and those consequences would be even worse if you actually do hurt yourself in the process of faking a fall.