Getting into a car accident is confusing enough. Finding out that the other driver crashed into you intentionally as part of a staged car accident fraud scheme can make it more difficult to understand your rights. People may stage car accidents to deceive auto insurance companies and fraudulently receive compensation checks. If you suspect this is the case in your recent car accident, contact a West Virginia car accident lawyer immediately.
Types of Staged Accidents
A staged car accident is a collision that criminals orchestrate to their advantage, generally to receive money through an insurance claim. It is a type of car insurance fraud. In a typical scheme, one or more roadway users intentionally cause an accident that will then appear to be the victim’s fault. The victim will then have to pay the criminals’ damages, typically through his/her insurance company. Three common types of staged car accident fraud schemes exist.
- The false yield is where another driver may motion for you to merge or to turn left, only to speed up and cause a collision after telling you to proceed. When police arrive, the driver may deny motioning you forward to place liability on you.
- Criminals are fond of staged rear-end accidents as well. Because the rear driver in a rear-end collision is almost always liable, criminals often stage these types of accidents. The criminal may have passengers watching you for signs of distraction. Then, the passengers tell the driver to slam on the brakes when you seem distracted, making you rear-end the vehicle in front.
- The sideswipe is another favorite of criminals. At a busy intersection with two left-turn lanes in the same direction, criminals may deliberately sideswipe your vehicle if you barely enter his or her turn lane. Likewise, the perpetrator may cross into your lane to sideswipe you, then allege (possibly with fake witnesses) that you crossed the line.
After a staged car accident, the criminals will often try to fake injuries, fake property damage, and fake witnesses. It is important to call the police for an official write-up of events after a collision – especially if you suspect criminal activity. Give the police your side of the story when they arrive, so the officers do not have only the criminals’ account of what happened.
Warning Signs of Staged Car Accidents
As a crash victim, it is in your best interests to detect and report a staged car accident. Although an insurance investigation may uncover signs of fraud, you should speak up if you suspect something unusual. Notifying the insurance company of your suspicions can help protect your rights as an unsuspecting victim involved in the scheme.
A convenient witness is a common sign of a staged accident. If someone approaches you immediately after the car accident and refers you to a specific doctor, auto shop, or lawyer, he or she could be part of an elaborate fraud. Another sign is a victim complaining of injuries that seem too serious for the severity of the accident. If you are a high-risk person for a staged accident scam, be especially alert to suspicious activities or crash circumstances.
High-risk individuals for staged car accident frauds include drivers who appear vulnerable, such as the elderly, as well as those who drive expensive or luxury vehicles. Criminals may assume individuals with nicer cars have higher insurance coverage amounts. Work vehicles and commercial trucks can also be lucrative targets for staged accidents.
What to Do After a Staged Car Accident
If you believe you have been part of a staged car accident, take notes about the crash. Get the names and contact information of everyone involved, including eyewitnesses. Take photos if you can. Call the police and explain your suspicions. Then, call your insurance company and let your agent know you suspect fraud. Reporting your beliefs could save you the expense and hassle of an at-fault claim against you.