Besides costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, most car accidents can lead to severe injuries and death. Especially in California, a state accountable for nearly 10% of all car accident fatalities in the U.S., according to data from 2019. There are almost 150 accidents in Los Angeles each day, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau suggests that not all accidents happened by mistake. In their opinion, one out of three accidents in Los Angeles is actually a staged car accident.
What is a Staged Car Accident?
A staged car accident will always involve a victim and a fraudulent driver or more of them. By operating their vehicles and putting the victim into an inescapable position, the dishonest driver will make the victim unwillingly cause an accident. The final goal is gaining greater money, either from the victim or from the victim’s insurance company.
They’ll often ask for money at the scene of the accident and be reluctant to call the police or give you their insurance or personal information. If they file a car accident claim, the evidence they present won’t match what happened and what you saw immediately after the accident.
The damage to their vehicle will be exaggerated, and they might try to blame you for damages from previous accidents. Likewise, fraudulent drivers’ injuries might seem more severe than what you witnessed on the scene, and this may be because they rigged their medical records by collaborating with dishonest doctors.
Fraudulent drivers are smart about how they choose their victims. The people they scam the most are seniors and women riding alone and also new vehicles because they are usually well insured.
Common Types of Fake Car Accidents
DRIVE DOWN: This usually happens when an innocent driver tries to merge into traffic. The fraudulent drive will already be in the lane and will sop and wave to the victim, giving them permission to merge in front of them.
As the victim tries to merge, a fraudulent driver will speed up and crash into the victim’s car. They will not admit to waving to the victim, giving permission by a hand motion, or stopping at all. As the victim cannot prove they had a “go ahead” from the fraud, they will be found at fault for improper merging.
PANIC STOP: In this scheme, a fraudulent driver will have a passenger on board to monitor when the driver behind them seems distracted. When they notice a distracted driver they will give a signal, and the dishonest driver will slam the breaks, making the other car cause an accident.
SWOOP AND SQUAT (City road): This scam involves three vehicles- two fraudster drivers and one victim driver. The ‘squat’ vehicle positions itself in front of the victim. Then the ‘swoop’ vehicle will drive in front of the ‘squat’ and slam the brakes, causing the victim driver to hit the ‘squat’ vehicle from behind. The ‘swoop’ driver, seemingly not involved in a crash, will then drive off.
SWOOP AND SQUAT (highway): The scam is done in the same way as on the city roads, only it involves another driver. This fraudulent driver will box off the victim from the side, leaving no room for maneuvering to avoid a collision. Just like the ‘swoop’ driver, this driver too will drive off after the crash.
How to Avoid Being a Victim in Fake Car Accident
Keep your distance from the other vehicles and avoid tailgating.
Don’t use your phone while driving or do anything else that can distract you
Call the police immediately to the scene of the crash no matter the type and gravity of the accident.
Take pictures of both cars and of the whole scene. Try to capture the other drivers too and any passengers from the other vehicles involved in a crash.
Exchange personal and insurance information with other drivers, but also witnesses. Make sure to gather as many names, phone numbers, and addresses as you can. The more details you have, the better chances you have to fight against a fraud claim.
If you suspect fraud, tell your insurance agent at once.
Don’t trust people who approach you from the side of the road and start recommending doctors and attorneys. If a tow truck appears at the scene, call your insurance company to check if they’ve sent it. Make sure that the tow truck was sent from a reliable source if you didn’t make the call yourselves.
Contact a car accident lawyer and ensure you have the best chances of overturning a fraudulent claim and avoid paying thousands of dollars in settlement.
Car Accident Frauds Explained
People who are committing car accident fraud are actually committing insurance fraud. However, all pieces are set in the crash phase. The frauds will make sure you are put in a situation where you cannot prove you were not negligent.
They will use the right-of-way accidents and rear-end collisions where, no matter what happens, we usually know who to hold responsible.
Another thing they will do is collaborate with equally dishonest doctors who are willing to count many inexistent injuries on their record in order to recover more money through settlement. There are also repair shops willing to give a much larger estimate of the damage done to the vehicle so that the claimant can again ask for more money.
However, when battling a possible fraudulent claim, an accident attorney may be of great help. Not only will they revise all the evidence and witness statements, but they will also do a background check on both the other driver and all specialists they’ve worked with. A thorough investigation by your car crash attorney can prove if the accident was staged or not.