New Law Limits Soliciting Of Accident Victims By Crash Rings
3/24/2015Recruiters try to convince victims to get phony treatment at shady clinics
WASHINGTON, March 24, 2015 —A new law works to choke off the recruiting of crash victims for worthless injury treatment by staged-crash rings proliferating in Kentucky, says the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.
Gov. Steve Beshear signed HB 153 into law March 23. The measure makes it illegal to solicit crash victims for treatment within 30 days of the incident. It’s also illegal to encourage victims to knowingly file phony and inflated medical claims.
“Crash rings are driving up auto premiums for honest Kentucky residents. Soliciting crash victims is a lucrative source of fraud profits. Prosecutors now can wield stiff penalties that take fraudsters off the streets and help drain the ring’s illicit income,” says Howard Goldblatt, the Coalition’s director of government affairs.
The measure revises an anti-fraud law that a federal court ruled unconstitutional in 2014. The bill takes effect in late June.
Staged-crash rings have a strong presence in Lexington, Louisville and other metropolitan areas of the state. They also are active in the north part of Kentucky near Cincinnati. Some rings have moved to Kentucky from Florida to escape increased anti-fraud crackdowns in the Sunshine State.
Organized rings seek to defraud auto-insurers with fake and inflated injury claims. A common method is to try and recruit crash victims for treatment at shady clinics — or medical mills — the rings operate.
Recruiters monitor police scanners for crashes, then hurry to the crash scene and approach often-traumatized victims. Recruiters also obtain police crash reports. They use the information to identify and help locate crash victims, then badger them to seek treatment.
Dishonest medical providers use the unknowing crash victims’ insurance information to lodge false claims for phantom or inflated injury treatments and diagnostic tests. Whiplash injuries to the back and neck are common phony claims. Soft-tissue injuries are hard for auto insurers to medically challenge because the injuries don’t clearly show up on X-rays or other tests.
The Coalition launched a joint letter-writing campaign involving investigators with the Kentucky chapter of the International Association of SIUs.
The effort generated letters from fraud fighters urging their legislators to vote for the bill as it traveled through the state Senate and House.
“Trying to exploit crash victims will become a more-dangerous gambit for organized rings. With this law, a pathway to fraud profits will become an exit ramp to a jail cell,” said Goldblatt.
Howard Goldblatt, director of government affairs, 202-393-7332;
James Quiggle, director of communications, 202-393-7331