After a car accident in Georgia, one of your first calls will need to be to your insurance company. In fact, virtually every insurance policy includes a clause that requires you to report any accident you are involved in, even if you are not at fault. But when you do call your insurer, you may be tempted to lie to them about what happened, especially if you believe you are at least partially at fault for the wreck.
The insurance adjuster you speak to will likely ask a slew of questions, some of which are designed to trip you up and get you to admit you caused the wreck – giving them grounds to deny any claim. But what happens if you lie to the insurance company about a car accident?
No matter how minor the lie, being dishonest with your car insurance provider is never a good idea. In fact, it falls under insurance fraud.
At best, you will have to remember your lie the entire time you are dealing with your insurer. They will most likely record calls and other interactions with you to uncover any discrepancies in your claim. At worst, you could face criminal penalties leading to fines and even jail time.
Of course, even if you tell the truth, your insurer may still try to twist your words to get out of paying the compensation you deserve. That is why it is so important to speak with an experienced Georgia car accident lawyer about all of your legal options after a wreck, especially if you suffered major injuries and/or property damage.
How the Insurance Company May React if You Lie
Your Claim Will Be Denied
If the insurance company discovers that you lied about the car accident, your claim will almost certainly be denied. It does not matter if you only embellished certain details, such as claiming vehicle damage that did not occur in the wreck, or if you entirely lie about your role in the collision. The insurance company will most likely deny the entire claim outright.
For example, a T-bone accident often results in broken bones. You may suffer a broken arm, which your insurance may cover. But if you lie about other injuries, such as whiplash or back pain, the insurance company may not cover any injuries or other damages – including your legitimately broken arm.
Your Policy May Be Canceled
If you lie to your insurance company about the cause, injuries, and other details of your car wreck, you risk losing your policy completely. Insurance companies do not want to work with individuals who lie and try to take their money.
Alternatively, they may move you to a high-risk insurance category, which can make it harder for you to get coverage. This categorization is shared throughout the insurance industry, so switching providers will most likely not solve your problems.
Your Premiums Can Increase
If your policy is not canceled, your premiums will almost certainly increase. As we mentioned before, your insurer may label you as “high risk,” and high-risk drivers can be forced to pay up to 70 percent more for the same coverage.
Unfortunately, your premiums may also increase after an accident even if it was not your fault. However, the rate of increase is typically much lower. But because Georgia follows a contributory negligence doctrine, your rates may increase more than usual if you are found partially at fault for the wreck.
Legal Consequences of Lying to the Insurance Company
Under Georgia law O.C.G.A. § 33-1-9, lying to your insurance company about the details of your wreck can lead to felony charges. The law states that insurance fraud occurs when any person knowingly or willfully:
Makes or aids in the making of any false or fraudulent statement or representation of any material fact or thing:
- In any written statement or certificate;
- In the filing of a claim;
- In the making of an application for a policy of insurance;
- In the receiving of such an application for a policy of insurance; or
- In the receiving of money for such application for a policy of insurance
- for the purpose of procuring or attempting to procure the payment of any false or fraudulent claim or other benefit by an insurer. …
A … person convicted of a violation of this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than two nor more than ten years, or by a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both.
In short, making a false or exaggerated claim to your insurance company is a serious crime. The penalties for insurance fraud in Georgia can be severe. You may face jail time from 2-10 years and/or a fine up to $10,000. In addition, if the insurance company already paid you, you will have to pay that money back.
I Already Lied to the Insurance Company. Now What?
As you may imagine, honestly is the best policy when it comes to speaking with the insurance company. However, it is important to note that errors innocent mistakes are not the same thing as lying to your insurer. If this occurs, insurance companies will usually understand and let you make amendments to your claim. However, this is not always the case. That is why we recommend speaking with an attorney before you speak with your insurance company.
Intentionally lying to the insurance company, on the other hand, is a different matter. If they discover the deception, there is a good chance they will send the file to the police for further action. At this point, it would be advisable to consult a criminal defense lawyer about your legal options.
While the law lays down severe penalties for insurance fraud, many of these cases do not result in legal prosecution. However, that does not mean you will get away with lying to your insurance company. Even if no criminal charges are filed against you, your insurer is still well within their rights to drop your coverage, deny your claim, label you as a high-risk driver and take other nonlegal (i.e., not pertaining to the law, not the same as illegal) action against you.
Contact a Duluth Car Accident Attorney Today
If you are not sure what to say to the insurance company, you are not alone. Calling and reporting a wreck to the party that will only compensate you under the right circumstances can be nerve-wracking. As such, we recommend that you consult an experienced car accident attorney before you speak to your insurance company to make sure you do not say the wrong thing.
In addition, you often have a better chance of getting the full compensation you deserve if you work with an Atlanta car accident lawyer. This is because insurance companies will not hesitate to pressure victims into taking a low settlement, using language such as, “This is our best offer – take it or leave it.” Personal injury attorneys know these tactics and will not back down until they get the settlement or verdict you are owed.
If you have been injured in a wreck due to someone else’s actions or negligence, we are here to help. The attorneys at Scholle Law have the skills and experience to take on the insurance company on your behalf. Your initial consultation is always free, and there is no fee until we win. Call us at (866) 592-1296 or contact us online today to speak with a Duluth car accident lawyer.