Nationally, experts believe insurance fraud causes tens of billions of dollars each year, and slows legitimate insurance claims while increasing premiums. Texas, for example ranks among the top 5 states in the country for fishy auto insurance claims. The crime of personal injury insurance fraud starts with the crime of staged car accidents.
Statistics reported to the National Insurance Crime Bureau show that, since 2001, there have been nearly 350 staged car accident schemes in North Texas alone. In fighting this type of auto accident, it is vital that you seek legal advice.
One Dallas auto accident attorney website offers that thousands of auto accidents occur yearly, and drivers who do not seek legal help often find themselves vulnerable to unfair financial obligations, crafty insurance adjusters, and of course can be held the responsible party in an accident scam. Law enforcement and insurance investigators advise drivers on how to be safe from 4 of the most common accident scams:
Avoid crash for cash
This is one of the oldest scams around. Scammers, usually driving older model cars, jump in front of cars or drive slow and stop suddenly so that the driver behind them crashes into the rear of their car. The scammers and their passengers pretend to be injured and sue the driver who rear-ended them or file an injury claim with the driver’s insurance company.
To avoid this scam, do not drive closely behind another vehicle, stay a safe distance behind so you will have enough room to stop suddenly when necessary. If the car in front of you is driving slower than the traffic flow, safely pass the vehicle. You don’t know whether the driver is having problems with his car or looking for victims.
2. Watch out for the wave
This fraudulent accident usually happens in heavy traffic. A scammer looks for a driver who wants to change lanes. The scammer waves at the driver to get in front of him. As the driver is changing lanes, the scammer speeds up and crashes into the car. The scammer denies to police that he waved to the driver to get in front of him, and places the blame for the crash on the driver.
3. Secure against the sideswipe
This occurs in two left-turn lanes. If the victim is in the inner lane and slightly drifts into the outer lane, the scammer deliberately sideswipes the victim’s vehicle and tells police that it was the victim’s fault.
4. Be Aware of the T-bone
This happens in an intersection with a stop signal or a stop sign. As the victim proceeds through the intersection, the waiting car, driven by a scammer, pulls out and crashes into the vehicle. The scammer tells police the victim ran the stop signal or the stop sign.
While there are variations on these scams, you can make sure that you cover yourself by:
1. Taking a photo (with your camera phone) of the damages.
2. Calling police. It is important to get a police report for insurance and legal purposes.
3. Obtaining the other driver’s name, address, phone number, driver license number and car insurance information.
4. Calling your insurance company, regardless of whether you believe your insurance premium will increase.
5. Refusing to take cash from the other driver in return for not reporting the accident to your insurance company.
It’s not easy to determine whether a car accident is staged, but it is important to know that scammers are out there. Stay alert and drive defensively; it may prevent you from becoming a victim.
Nicole Bailey-Covin is a veteran journalist who suggests that drivers learn to become more aware of their driving environment and recognize these most common accident scams. In the Lone Star State, a Dallas auto accident attorney understands the rights of victims in scam accidents, and can provide legal help in the event of this difficult situation. No matter the locale, always seek legal advice.