The crooks out there who claim fake personal injuries do REAL damage to the cases of legitimately injured people. As a personal injury attorney, I also detest such “fakers” for the harm their fraud does to the reputation of my profession.

Reporting on false claims sticks strongly in the minds of the public. When juries are put together, they frequently start with the perception that our cases can be faked.

Personal injury fakers may think it’s just between them and whatever defendant they decide to try and extract money from. Their actions are criminal – and call into into question the integrity of our personal injury clients, and of attorneys like myself who represent them. These bad apples cause the whole barrel to be suspect.

I recently came across a great post by a respected colleague, personal injury attorney Michael Bersani, of the firm Michaels & Smolak. The firm is based in Auburn, and the post reported on the case of a personal injury hoax perpetrator and how he was caught. I want to spread the word about this post, “Auburn NY Personal Injury Claim Faker Is Caught!” and the true story of this stupid would-be crook.

The case, as reported in the Syracuse Post-Standard, was of an Auburn man charged with insurance fraud for faking a slip-and-fall injury in convenience store. According to the Associated Press story, “Officials say Auburn man’s faked fall in store was caught on camera,” the guy poured a soda on the store floor, then sprawled on the floor until other customers and the store employees found and helped him.

Charles E. Barnes Sr., 48, later filed a claim with the store’s insurance carrier, claiming he suffered a back injury in the “accident.”

His real “slip”? Forgetting that the convenience store had surveillance cameras that caught his whole act!

State Insurance Department officials said in the story that Barnes is charged with insurance fraud and falsifying business records. He’s withdrawn his claim and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

I completely agree with Micheal in his hope that the authorities will “throw the book” at this crook. I also wanted to quote Michael’s feelings about this case and personal injury fraud in general, because they mirror my own.

“Honest New York personal injury lawyers like myself abhor dishonest personal injury claimants. They give our honest clients, and us, a bad name. Many people already assume, wrongly, that personal injury claimants exaggerate or completely fake their injuries. One true story about a fraudulent personal injury claim gives the whole profession a black eye.

I have represented hundreds of Central New York and Syracuse personal injury claimants over the years, and I can count on one hand those who were faking (and with my long experience representing personal injury victims, I can tell!). When I discover the deceit, I quickly severe the relationship. Even if I did not discover the deceit, the personal injury claim process would eventually, in almost all cases, reveal it. An insurance carrier’s thorough investigation, or the harsh light of a deposition, usually brings the lie into focus.

In my experience, most personal injury fakers are also stupid. And dishonesty mixed with stupidity can easily backfire.”

My sentiments exactly. Thanks, Michael, for the great post!

James B. Reed, Esq.
NY & PA Personal Injury Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
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