When you get behind the wheel of your car, you may not realize that there are some drivers out there looking for targets to stage a car accident and reap the benefits. Staged car accidents are on the rise, and according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Florida is the leader in the nation for these types of accidents with just over 3,000 staged accidents in only a few years. They are followed by New York (1,680), California (1,619), Texas (792) and Illinois (433). (See article at USA.gov)
MSN reports that there have been as many as 100 suspected staged accidents in Nevada in the past 12 to 28 months. Twenty-five of those have involved the big tractor-trailers. While a big rig doesn’t sound like something anyone can necessarily œprey upon, the trick is actually pretty simple: Pull in front of the truck quickly, and — before it can create the space it needs to brake safely in case of an emergency — jam on the brakes. In addition to carrying loads of goods across the country, these big trucks also carry loads of insurance coverage. And we don’t need to explain why an 80,000-pound behemoth lacks the physical ability to stop as quickly as a sedan. After the criminals have been rear-ended, they claim injury and collect the cash. However, these criminals have taken things a step further by filling the fraudulent cars with one of two kinds of passengers “ the willing and the unknowing. In either case, the point is to create multiple claims and, thus, more money. Willing participants receive a cut of the insurance money and have often been identified at more than one accident scene. The unknowing “ well, they’re often immigrant workers who are picked up and told they’re being driven to a job site.
Coalition Against Insrance Fraud: See the staged car accident scenarios
There’s huge potential for additional injuries here, including causing more accidents behind or in front of the truck. And what if the truck driver swerved or flipped? A line of stabbed brakes behind the tractor-trailer could be devastating.
So what can you do? Honest citizens like you can fight back, protect yourself and put crooks like these behind bars.
¢ Never tailgate : allow plenty of space between your car and the car ahead of you. This will give you ample time to stop if the lead car suddenly jams on its brakes.
¢ Look beyond the car in front of you while driving. Apply your brakes if you see traffic slowing.
¢ Count how many passengers were in the other car if you’re in a collision. Get their names, phone numbers and driver’s license : more people may file claims than were in the car. Also get the car’s license number.
Note: Download our Car Accident GloveBox Brochure to keep with you.
¢ How do the passengers behave? Did they stand around and joke, but suddenly act “injured” when the police arrived?
¢ Take cell-phone pictures of the other car, the damage it received, and the passengers.
¢ Call the police to the scene. Get a police report with the officer’s name, even for minor damage. If the police report notes just a small dent or scratch, it’ll be harder for crooks to later claim serious injuries or car damage.
¢ Get involved if you’re a witness. Watch for the warning signs of a scam, and help the honest victim with details.
After the accident
¢ Contact your state insurance fraud bureau if a stranger tries to steer you to an unknown body shop, doctor, chiropractor or lawyer. Give officials the names, addresses and phone numbers of these providers.
¢ Only see medical and legal providers you know and trust, or at least ones that are recommended by people you trust. Never let yourself be suckered by a stranger off the streets.
¢ Keep careful records of your medical treatments : dates, treatments given, and diagnoses. Compare your records against the statements you receive to make sure the bill wasn’t padded or treatments outright fabricated.
If you have been the victim of a staged car accident, or if you need help with a car crash you were involved in, contact the attorneys at Edwards & Ragatz, P.A. for help.