From 2013 to 2018, the patients of a former New York City chiropractor would have never suspected that he was masterminding a slip and fall accident scam that would total almost $31 million in claims. But that is exactly what happened, and there was plenty of shock to go around when the doctor was arrested in April 2018.
The details of the fraudulent claim ring that expanded to four more primary participants and a list of fake patients were amazing. In many cases, the patients were compensated a flat rate and a percentage of the final claim if they agreed to undergo fake surgery to enhance their injuries. This is a case that shows just how rampant personal injury fraud is, and how difficult it is to get away with it.
It Happens All Over
From 2010 to 2011, the city of Philadelphia had the third highest amount of questionable slip and fall claims in the country. During that same time span, the entire country experienced a 12 percent rise in the number of potentially fraudulent claims, and that number continues to rise today.
These type of slip and fall frauds cost insurance companies billions of dollars every year, and that cost is passed on to consumers. The public is always encouraged to report insurance fraud when they see it, and help to keep insurance premiums down for everyone.
How Does It Work?
A basic slip and fall accident scam starts with criminals choosing smaller retail stores that usually do not have extensive video surveillance systems. A fake victim goes into the store and claims a serious injury from a fall. Since there are no cameras in the area the accident occurred (or did not occur), the store owner is forced to agree that a claim must be filed.
A week or so later, the victim returns and informs the store owner that the medical bills were an excessive amount (perhaps $2,000.00 or more) and the victim is going to have to file a personal injury insurance claim. In some cases, the store owner has no choice but to allow the case to be negotiated by the insurance companies. In most cases, the fake victim will accept a settlement out of court and the whole thing ends.
If the store owner has decent financial resources, then they might choose to pay the damages and avoid any problems with the insurance company. In return, the victim signs an agreement to not file a claim or sue the store owner. In the end, either the store owner or the insurance company has to pay for the fraudulent claim.
Protect Yourself From Fraud
The act of protecting a business from fraud also has the side-effect of helping real slip and fall victims to prove their cases. The best way to protect a business from fraud is to make sure that every square foot of floor space, whether it is open to the public or not (and minus the bathrooms of course) is covered by good quality surveillance cameras. Business owners can also insist that every slip and fall victim fill out a detailed accident report to help collect information to investigate what happened.
A good surveillance system can both prove that a fake victim is lying, and prove that a real victim is telling the truth. Some fake victims might bristle at the idea of filling out a comprehensive accident report, which is why those reports can be helpful to insurance companies, businesses, and real slip and fall victims.
Insurance fraud is a big problem in the personal injury arena, and slip and fall accidents are some of the most common fraudulent claims. Businesses need to protect themselves from potential fraud, and the public needs to report fraud to help keep insurance premiums down for everyone.