Auto Wreck Rings

“Crash for cash.” It sounds like the latest reality competition television series, along the lines of “Survivor” or “The Amazing Race.” In reality, while it might make for interesting TV, the concept involves organized criminals who target unsuspecting highway drivers, hoping to force them into an accident so the crooks can claim they were injured and receive insurance money. Staged-accident scam groups practice maneuvers to trap innocent drivers into situations in which it’s very difficult to avoid an accident. This scheme can be as simple as slamming the brakes on in front of another driver or as advanced as to rely on more complex scenarios, though most of them involve getting the victim to rear end the criminal’s car. Victims are often chosen based on the presumption that they have great insurance, such as commercial vehicles, women with kids in the car and people driving brand new vehicles. Here in Kentucky, lawmakers have passed a law aimed at a particular segment of these fraudsters – those who contact automobile wreck victims for medical treatment. Kentucky HB 153 goes into effect this month and makes it illegal to solicit car accident victims regarding medical treatment for 30 days following the incident. This solicitation by insurance fraud rings intent on using innocent victims to defraud the state’s insurance system drives up auto premiums for honest Kentucky residents.

The new law states, “During the first 30 days following a motor vehicle accident a healthcare provider or an intermediary, at the request or direction of a healthcare provider, shall not solicit or knowingly permit another individual to solicit a person involved in a motor vehicle accident for the provision of reparation benefits as defined by KRS 304.39-020(2).”
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), Kentucky has seen a steady uptick in medically related suspicious claims. Some of that may be due to “fraud migration,” meaning that these types of fraudulent claims have migrated from larger areas to Kentucky. In fact, Louisville currently ranks 10th in the country for suspicious vehicle accident claims. The scammers have been known to monitor police scanners and then contact the victims at the crash site or later through the police accident reports, badgering the victims to seek treatment at clinics with questionable practices. The disreputable medical providers then file fake claims against the victim’s insurance for soft-tissue injuries that are hard to prove through testing. The Insurance Institute of Kentucky describes the scheme this way: “Unscrupulous providers learn of an accident and contact people involved, who may or may not be truly injured, with a promise of a cash payment. This is then followed by a series of treatments until personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, usually $10,000, are used up, at which time the patient is cut loose.” In many cases, the medical care that is given is insufficient or not even related to the injuries that were received. This leaves patients who were truly injured in a tough spot, unable to get treatment later because their PIP benefits are already exhausted. If you have been involved in a traffic wreck that seems suspicious, have been inappropriately contacted regarding medical treatment, or have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at the Pikeville, KY-based Johnson Law Firm. Contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or using our online form.

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