Nine Insurance Scams from 2018

Source: The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

While much of insurance fraud goes unreported, at least $80 billion in fraudulent claims are made annually in the U.S. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a group of insurance, consumers and government organizations, reported the following incidents:

Burning desire. Two firefighters died when a brick wall fell on them as they fought an arson fire. Thu Hong Nguyen set the blaze to burn her nail salon for insurance money in Kansas City, Mo.

Driven to steal. A vast fraud ring run by Felix Filenger stole fully $23 million for bogus whiplash injury claims from real and setup car crashes in South Florida.

Bribes for blood. The largest doctor bribery scheme in U.S. history saw chiropractor David Nicoll stealing more than $100 million. He bribed at least 38 corrupt doctors for false testing of blood samples in Parsippany, N.J.

Toddler killer. Erica White poisoned her blind and deaf toddler Tyrael McFall to death for $50,000 of life insurance in the Atlanta area.

Maladjusted adjuster. Public adjuster Jorge Fausto Espinosa burned and flooded dozens of homes for $14 million of inflated claims in South Florida. Damage was rigged to look like electrical problems, kitchen accidents and faulty water lines.

Home arsonist floored. Firefighter Patrick Wolterman died when he fell through a seared floor while combating an insurance arson set by Billy Lester Parker and Billy Tucker in Hamilton, Ohio.

Pain for profit. Homeless people were inflicted with painful and unneeded spinal injections. Detroit-area streets also were flooded with more than 4 million painkillers in a $300-million Medicare plot by Dr. Mishiyat Rashid.

Unsober sober homes. Yury Baumblit ran unsafe flophouses that housed homeless people and addicts in the New York City area. He pushed many into unneeded drug rehab, forced some to take drugs, and evicted anyone who didn’t cooperate.

Money addiction. Kirsten Wallace co-owned a corrupt sober home that stole the identities of addicts to overbill insurers in a $175-million insurance crime. It was one of the largest health-insurance plots in California history.

Car thefts on rise in Canada as thieves target trucks, SUVs: insurance board

A new report says thieves are setting their sights on older-model Ford trucks and high-end SUVs as the number of automotive thefts rose again last year.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada said Tuesday, December 11, 2018 in its annual list of the most frequently stolen vehicles that the Ford F250 and F350 trucks dominated the list of most stolen vehicles in 2017.

In Ontario, Chevrolet dominated the list, including older model Tahoes and Silverados. In Quebec, the most stolen vehicle was the 2017 Acura MDX, while in Atlantic Canada the Nissan Maxima was the top pick.

Henry Tso, the board’s vice-president of investigative services, said thieves are going after older model trucks because they have less sophisticated security measures.

“Usually you need the card key information to get the diagnostic to start the car. A lot of the older vehicles, it doesn’t have that, so once you have a key cut you can start the vehicle.”

Thieves are, however, targeting newer vehicles that have key fobs through a technique known as a relay attack, where they use a device to remotely pick up the radio signal coming from the fob to unlock and start the car.

“Right now it’s just trending up right now, it’s fairly new,” said Tso.

To prevent the relay attack, vehicle owners should consider keeping their fob in what’s known as a Faraday sleeve or pouch, which blocks the radio signals, he said.

Many drivers, however, would do well to simply not leave their keys in their vehicles. In Alberta, about 25 per cent of thefts occurred when the keys were in the car, often to keep the vehicle warm, said Tso.

“It’s easily preventable, the 25 per cent, all they have to do is be a little colder in their vehicle.”

Alberta also saw the most thefts, making up about 25,000 of the 85,000 vehicles stolen in 2017 for a nationwide increase of about six per cent.

New Brunswick saw the sharpest rise in thefts with a 28 per cent jump, with Ontario seeing a 15 per cent increase.

The board says New Year’s Day is the most common time for vehicles to be stolen.

But, it says vehicles are often smuggled outside the country, sold to unsuspecting consumers, scrapped for parts or used to commit another crime with organized crime rings usually involved.

The Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada says crime groups involved in auto thefts operate primarily out of Montreal and Toronto.

Father who lost son in Broncos crash wants graduated licensing in truck training

A father who lost his son in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash says mandatory training in Saskatchewan for commercial semi-truck drivers is a good first step, but he wants to see more.

Russ Herold, whose son Adam died in a collision between the junior hockey team’s bus and a semi last April, told CJME in Regina that he would like to see the rules adopted nationwide.

Herold is also calling for graduated licensing with limits on mileage and on what semi-trailer combinations drivers are allowed based on how much time they’ve spent behind the wheel.

Last week, the Saskatchewan government announced that, starting in March, drivers will have to take mandatory training of just over 120 hours for a Class 1 commercial licence.

Farmers driving for agricultural purposes will be exempt from the new rules, but will need to stay within the provincial boundary.

Herold, a farmer himself, doesn’t think there should be exemptions for anyone.

“There is no such thing as a border when you’re a truck driver nowadays,” he said. “Everybody sees that there’s lots of trucks. Truck traffic is just the way goods move these days and we need to ensure the roads are safe.”

He suggested experience has to be key in training.

“Experience behind the wheel is what’s going to make people better drivers. You’re not going on a thousand-mile trip your first trip out,” Herold said.

“We all share the road and an accident could happen in 50 miles as easy as it can in 500 miles.”

Sixteen people were killed and 13 players were injured as a result of the crash at a rural intersection in April as the Broncos were heading to a junior hockey playoff game.

The truck driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, is charged with numerous counts of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Joe Hargrave, minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, has called mandatory training overdue and said the government had been considering the measure even before the Broncos crash.

Herold said he gets frustrated to hear that from a government that has been in power for years.

“If people talk like that, obviously they know there was a concern. There was possibly a problem,” he said. “Why weren’t things done sooner? Why did it take a tragedy like this to bring it to the forefront?”

BC Court of Appeal – Settlement Paying Pennies on the Dollar Beats Losing Your House

BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

You are badly injured through the alleged negligence of others.  If you win at trial you can get north of $400,000 in damages.  If you lose you will literally lose your house to cover the costs of litigation. When faced with this stark reality a settlement offer that pays less than 1o cents on the dollar may very well be reasonable.  The BC Court of Appeal released reasons for judgment today saying as much.

In today’s case (Deo v. Vancouver) the infant plaintiff suffered serious injuries leaving him partially blind while at school.  He sued for damages and was largely unsuccessful on proving liability at trial.  The Plaintiff’s lawyer valued the claim at over $400,000 but before the liability appeals could be heard a settlement of $35,000 was reached.  The Plaintiff, being an infant, could not legally agree to any settlement and judicial permission was needed.  The BC Court of Appeal noted that if the lawsuit ultimately proved unsuccessful the costs consequences would be so steep that the Plaintiff’s parents would likely need to sell their house.  Appreciating this the risk-based settlement was reasonable and the Court approved it.  In supporting the settlement the BC Court of Appeal provided the following reasons:

[11]         Counsel assesses the quantum of damages for non-pecuniary loss in the range of $100,000 to $140,000 and for loss of future earnings in the range of $300,000 to $350,000. The estimate of an adverse costs award if the appeal is unsuccessful is in excess of $100,000.

[12]         Isaac lives with his parents in a house in East Vancouver. If costs are awarded against him, they would have to sell the house to pay the costs. His father says that he has weighed the prospects of success of the appeal against the risk of losing the home and the impact that would have on Isaac and the rest of the family. He says he has concluded that it is in Isaac’s best interests to accept the settlement.

[13]         The parties have consented to the trial judge approving the solicitor’s account without costs.

[14]         Having read the materials provided, it is our view that the settlement is a prudent one, and is in Isaac’s best interests. As was noted in Lotocky, “it is… artificial and misguided to judge the merits of the appeal in isolation from the financial ramifications that would arise from an unsuccessful appeal”: para. 69. Counsel for Isaac acknowledges the “very real” risk that the appeal on liability will be unsuccessful. In light of the serious financial consequences that would flow from an unsuccessful appeal, we agree with the assessment of counsel and that it is in Isaac’s best interests to accept the settlement.

[15]         The settlement is approved in the terms sought. The appeal and cross appeal are dismissed as abandoned on a without costs basis to any party. The matter is remitted to the Supreme Court to Justice Riley for approval of the solicitor’s account.

Pedestrian Found 80% At Fault For Being Struck While Jaywalking

Reasons for judgement were published this week by the BC Court of Appeal upholding a trial judge’s assessment of fault for a pedestrian/vehicle collision.

In the recent case (Vandendorpel v. Evoy) the Plaintiff was struck while crossing a street.  He was at a light controlled intersection.  He pressed the button to activate the pedestrian walk signal but did not wait for the signal to come on.  Instead, he proceeded to cross the street while the signal for traffic in his direction was still red.  The Defendant was driving marginally over the speed limit and entered the intersection on a fresh yellow light striking the jaywalking pedestrian.   At trial the plaintiff was found 80% at fault for the crash.  In upholding this result the BC Court of Appeal agreed with the following reasonsing of the trial judge:

[53]      While both parties failed in their respective duties of care, I find Mr. Evoy’s failure was much less significant than Mr. Vandendorpel’s. His negligence consisted of driving at a speed that was over the posted limit, even if it was only minimally above that limit (i.e., approximately 55 km/hr in a 50 km/hr zone) and doing so when the lighting and road conditions were less than optimal. Compared to this conduct, Mr. Vandendorpel’s failures were more serious. He was dressed in dark clothing, including a dark hooded pullover that was zipped up to the top. None of his clothing had any light reflective qualities. Counsel for Mr. Vandendorpel submits that wearing dark clothing is not in and of itself contributory negligence. That submission is correct, but Mr. Vandendorpel’s failures are greater than simply the clothing he was wearing. He was also wearing headphones and listening to music and that reduced his ability to hear any on-coming traffic. He also had to cross a five-lane roadway that spanned approximately 18 metres. Although he depressed the pedestrian control device, he only waited a second or so before he attempted to cross the roadway. He carelessly did so even though the pedestrian control signal was still red and the traffic control signals were still green. Mr. Evoy’s vehicle approached the Intersection from the north. That is the direction Mr. Vandendorpel was initially walking. The headlights of Mr. Evoy’s vehicle would have been visible from at least 100 metres away. Mr. Vandendorpel must not have looked north on Sooke Road as he began to cross the roadway because he did not see the headlights of Mr. Evoy’s vehicle until it was approximately 30 metres away from him. That is, until the vehicle was just about to enter the Intersection. At that point, the pedestrian control signal was still red and the traffic control signal was yellow. Notwithstanding all of this, Mr. Vandendorpel chose to run across the path of the on-coming car instead of standing fast or retreating.

[54]      I remain of the firm opinion that Mr. Vandendorpel showed a reckless disregard for his duties as a pedestrian on the roadway and conclude that his degree of fault for the accident is greater than that of Mr. Evoy.

[55]      The case authorities counsel provided me with respect to apportionment have been helpful. Each party’s degree of responsibility is to be decided by assessing the risk their respective conduct created, the effect of that risk, and the extent to which each party departed from the standard of reasonable care (see: MacDonald (Litigation guardian of) v. Goertz, 2008 BCSC 394, aff’d 2009 BCCA 358).

[56]      In my view, the risk Mr. Vandendorpel created when he chose to walk and then run across Sooke Road, into the path of Mr. Evoy’s on-coming vehicle created a much more significant risk than Mr. Evoy driving at a speed marginally above the speed limit on a dark morning with a wet roadway. Moreover, I find the departure from the standard of care expected of Mr. Vandendorpel as a pedestrian was much more pronounced than the departure of Mr. Evoy from his duty of care as a driver of a motor vehicle.

A timeline of events in an RCMP investigation at the B.C. legislature

A timeline of events surrounding an investigation by the RCMP into staff at the B.C. legislature:

January: Alan Mullen is hired by Speaker Darryl Plecas as a special adviser to work on issues of concern to him, which included an investigation of senior legislature staff.

August: Mullen provides information he has gathered to the RCMP.

Sept. 28: The RCMP privately asks the assistant deputy attorney general for the appointment of a special prosecutor to provide assistance in an investigation.

Oct. 1: Two special prosecutors are appointed, but their appointments are not made public.

Monday, Nov. 19: A request from Plecas to appoint Mullen as acting sergeant-at-arms is rejected by the legislature’s three party house leaders at a meeting to discuss placing sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz and clerk of the house Craig James on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Tuesday, Nov. 20: The legislature votes unanimously to place the James and Lenz on administrative leave pending an investigation.

_ Later that day, the RCMP issues a statement saying it is aware of “the activities that took place” on Tuesday at the legislature. The statement continues: “The RCMP has an active investigation underway, with respect to allegations pertaining to their administrative duties, and we are not in a position to provide any other details or specifics. A thorough investigation is underway and will take the time necessary.”

_ The B.C. Prosecution Service also issues a statement announcing the appointment of the two special prosecutors to provide advice to the RCMP “in relation to an investigation being conducted into the activities of senior staff at the British Columbia legislature.”

Thursday, Nov. 22: Liberal house leader Mary Polak releases a sworn affidavit that makes public for the first time Plecas’s plan to appoint Mullen as acting sergeant-at-arms. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says the public should be told more details about what happened this week.

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