This type of insurance fraud happens all over the country and the world. In fact, many insurance companies have anti-fraud departments that are set up to try and discover—and then defuse—fraudulent insurance claims.
If you’re on the road and you get into an accident, but something about it doesn’t feel right, how can you be sure? Are there any signs you can stay alert for to tip you off to the possibility that you are being victimized by a staged injury for insurance fraud purposes? We have a few popular techniques that some people like to use.
The Intentional Cut Off
This is a fairly sophisticated staged accident that requires two vehicles on the part of the fraudsters. In this scenario, one fraudster will drive the car ahead of the victim. Another car, also driven by a member of the fraudster team will then pull ahead of the first fraud car, as if attempting to overtake and pass. However, what this second car will do is then get in front and steer in such as a way as to make it look they are cutting off the first fraudster car. That first car will then put on the brakes in an attempt to avoid this move, which is usually timed to give you too little time to react.
You then crash into the first car, and the second car drives off, never to be seen again. In this incident, you may claim that the accident was caused the vehicle that attempted to cut off the first driver, but because the vehicle and driver will never be seen again, the blame for the collision falls on you, since you actually ran into the car.
This staged accident only requires one car, but often involves more than one fraudster. In this scenario, the fraud team will get ahead of a victim, and reduce the distance between cars enough that only very sharp awareness and reflexes could successfully brake and avoid a collision. Then the other passengers will keep a close eye on the victim, waiting for a distracted moment, such as the victim checking text messages on a phone.
Once the fraudsters see the victim is distracted, the signal is given, and the driver suddenly stops the car, causing the distracted victim to attempt to brake—usually unsuccessfully, as intended—and hit the fraudster car in the rear. The combination of the victim being distracted with the phone or some other incident, along with multiple people in the fraud car backing up claims of distracted driving, in addition to faking multiple injuries, means that this fraud, when successfully executed, can get very expensive as multiple people get paid by the insurance company.
This staged accident takes place at portions of the road where traffic merges, such as on or off-ramps. As the victim is attempting to merge with traffic, the fraudster may make signals with his or her hands indicating per-mission for the victim to merge. As soon as the victim attempts to merge, the fraudster speeds up and collides with the victim. Now, the fraudster claims that no such permission to merge was given, and the victim tried un-lawfully barging into the lane to bully into the traffic.
What To Do
There are some things that you, as a driver, can do to safeguard yourself against staged accident attempts. One of the best and most cost-effective things you can do is invest in a dashboard camera. These are cameras that constantly record while you are driving. In the event that someone deliberately stages an accident, such as a pedestrian throwing themselves at your car and then claiming yo>u ran into them, usually the knowledge of seeing a camera present is enough to neutralize the entire situation because the fraudsters already know the collected camera evidence will hold up in court.
Another important thing is to not act too rashly. If the fraudsters are directing you towards a specific lawyer to talk to, or a tow truck arrives on the scene even though you’re certain no one actually called for that kind of back up, exercise caution. Keep your own consul, and seek the advice of your own personal injury lawyer, ra-ther than trying to settle this out of court, as the fraudsters would like.