Staged Car AccidentsJuly 23, 2018
Staged car accidents are a significant cause of high auto insurance premiums. Payouts on claims for staged accidents have likely cost insurance companies billions of dollars. These costs are passed onto consumers in what amounts to a fraud tax.
Recently, prosecutors in New York broke up a crime ring that attempted to make $400 million in false claims from staged car accidents and fake claims in New York City. As law enforcement cracks down, the perpetrators look for new territory. The problem has been identified in many places, particularly larger, wealthier cities.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau is a nonprofit organization dedicated to leading an effort by insurers, law enforcement agencies, and the public, to prevent and combat insurance fraud. They have compiled materials to provide drivers with warning signs and suggestions for how to handle cases where the driver suspects they may be involved in a staged accident.
Who Gets Targeted?
Everyone is a potential target for these crimes. However, elderly people, women who are alone, and drivers of expensive cars are more likely to be targeted. In addition, big rig trucks are also often targeted.
Signs of a Staged Crash
The most frequent form of a staged crash involves two drivers. One drives alongside the target vehicle, so that they cannot change lanes to avoid a crash. A second one drives in front of the target and suddenly slams on the brakes, causing a rear-end collision. This is called a swoop and stop.
Intersections are a common place for scammers to stage accidents. The scammer may wait for you to enter an intersection, and then hit the gas so they T-bone you, hitting the side of your vehicle. Or, the scammer may actually wait and wave you on, only to speed up and hit you. Afterwards, they will deny that they waved you on. Another intersection crash can happen when you are attempting to make a left turn in front of their car. As you move, the driver pulls ahead, blocking you, and another car ends up crashing into yours.
Once the accident happens, other suspicious activities provide further warning signs that something is not right. If people show up at the accident scene recommending you go to a particular clinic or attorney, these people may also be in on the scheme. Some doctors collaborate in the scheme and provide supporting evidence of fake injuries for the scammers.
Be suspicions of a witness appearing out of nowhere. This can be a sign that they are in on the scam as well. They will back up what the scammer says happened. Finally, you should be suspicious if, after only minor damage to their car, the other driver and any passengers claim that they are injured.
What to Do After an Accident
Precautions to take are essentially the same after all accidents. If you are able, get photos immediately of the car, their license plate, the damage, and the like. Get their contact, insurance, and license information. Get contact information from any witnesses, and if you find anything suspicious, descriptions or photos of them. You should also call the police, in especial if you believe you might have been involved in a staged car accident.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman, & Hamilton Represent Car Accident Victims
If you have been involved in a car accident, experienced Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can work with you to evaluate your case and help you get compensation to which you are entitled. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or complete our online form. Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson.
We represent car accident victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.