I disagree with insurance companies as to how prevalent the practice is, but there is no doubt that many people either exaggerate their injuries in car accidents or manufacture the injuries all together. This we know.
Insurance companies set up “special investigation units” called “SIU” (GEICO) or some other similarly covert sounding name to try to determine whether victims in car accident cases are clients that are exaggerating the scope of their injuries, getting unnecessary medical treatment to try to increase the value of their case, or even staging the car accident. The SUI units of insurance companies try, as GEICO puts it, “to detect, deter, and defeat insurance fraud.”
Good car accident lawyers in Maryland know that largely these SIU units are our friends? Why? Because ridding the system of fraudulent accident claims leaves a larger pie – and a more differentiated pie – for people who are really injured in car accidents and deserve compensation.
I have not had a claim that was investigated by an SIU unit of an insurance company in years. We take few soft tissue injury cases without compelling facts these days, because we have figured out that juries view cases without an objective injury almost as skeptically as insurance companies.
That said, insurance companies are often incompetent and put meritorious cases in SIU. Good accident lawyers address the issue head on, investigating the claim, and provide further information to explain where the confusion arises. (If your investigation reveals strong suspicions of fraud, I think you have to back out of the case.)
One thing I found of interest in writing this post is GEICO’s advice on dealing with potential fraudulent claims. They tell their insureds to “look out for large, older vehicles with three or more occupants.” Aren’t you also on the lookout for poor people? I mean, it might be statistically true but it seems a little ill advised to point this out. I mean, really, has anyone ever seen a car on the roadway, identified it as an old car, and avoided an accident by steering clear of it? I bet this has never happened in human history.