Staged car accident

In everyday life, navigating through traffic and crowded streets is a routine part of our existence. Vehicle accidents happen every day, however, they’re just that – an accident. What happens when a car accident is intentional?  

What is a Staged Car Accident?

A staged car accident is a scheme where individuals deliberately cause or manipulate a vehicular collision in order to make false insurance claims. These staged accidents can involve various scenarios, such as suddenly braking in front of another vehicle, inducing a rear-end collision, or purposely colliding with another vehicle in a way that appears accidental.

The perpetrators of staged accidents often work in groups and may include both drivers and passengers. After the staged accident occurs, they typically file inflated or entirely false insurance claims for vehicle damage, medical expenses, and other losses. These claims can lead to increased insurance premiums for honest policyholders and can also result in legal consequences for those involved in the fraud.

Types of Staged Car Accidents

There are many different types of staged car accident schemes that the National Insurance Crime Bureau investigates. They can include, but are not limited to:

  1. Sideswipe: One car will intentionally sideswipe another vehicle while merging or changing lanes. Then, they’ll claim that the innocent driver drifted into their lane, resulting in the collision.
  2. Swoop and squat: A vehicle will suddenly cut or ‘swoop’  in front of another and subsequently slam on its brakes, causing a rear collision. The driver of that “squat” vehicle that swooped in, alongside any passengers, will then make injury claims against the driver that rear-ended them
  3. T-bone collision: A motorist will wait until an unsuspecting victim drives into an intersection and then deliberately smashes into the side of their vehicle to cause a side-impact collision. They will then claim that they victim drove in front of them without looking. This can involve other people posing as witnesses who claim the victim was speeding or ran a red light. 
  4. Wave-in: In a ‘wave-in’ scenario, one driver in one car will wave another driver to pass in front of them in traffic. Once this happens, a second car of other fraudsters will drive up quickly and cause the innocent driver to hit them. 
  5. Start-and-stop: This is often done in heavy traffic with the thief quickly accelerating and then slamming on their breaks in an attempt to get the victim to rear-end them. 
  6. Stop and backup: In this scenario, a car driving in front of another, will stop completely and then back up into the victim in an attempt to say the victim rear-ended them. 

As seen from the examples above, these types of perpetrators employ a range of tactics to orchestrate collisions for their illicit gain. Recognizing these methods is the first step in protecting oneself on the road.

How to Respond to a Staged Car Accident

In the event of a staged car accident, swift and decisive action is imperative. From ensuring personal safety to documenting evidence, knowing how to respond can safeguard one’s interests and prevent further exploitation. By following a series of steps, drivers can mitigate the impact of a staged accident and protect themselves from potential legal and financial repercussions.

Immediate Actions at the Scene

Upon realizing that an accident may be staged, it is crucial to prioritize personal safety above all else. Remaining calm and composed, drivers should assess the situation, check for injuries, and contact emergency services if necessary. Avoid engaging in confrontations or admitting fault, as this may be exploited by fraudulent parties.

Reporting the Incident to Authorities

Reporting the incident to the relevant authorities is essential in combating staged car accidents. Providing law enforcement with accurate and detailed information can aid in the investigation and prosecution of fraudulent individuals. 

Be prepared to provide a thorough account of the events leading up to the collision and any suspicious behavior exhibited by the other party. If a victim has a dash cam in their car, they need to save the footage as soon as possible and show it to the police while they write the report. 

If a driver suspects the accident was fraudulent, they can report it to the National Insurance Crime Bureau at 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or via their online form. 

Documenting Evidence and Gathering Information

Documenting evidence is paramount in proving who is truly liable, the legitimacy of a claim, and protecting oneself from false accusations. Take photographs of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, road conditions, and surrounding landmarks. Collect contact information from witnesses and exchange insurance details with the other party involved. 

Seeking Legal Assistance if Necessary

Staged car accidents are illegal and can carry severe penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and civil liabilities. Law enforcement agencies and insurance companies actively investigate and prosecute individuals and organizations involved in staging accidents to combat insurance fraud and protect the integrity of the insurance system.

In complex cases involving staged car accidents, seeking legal assistance may be advisable. An Albuquerque car accident lawyer from Caruso Law Offices, P.C. relayed that you should contact your car insurance after an accident, but to not admit fault or make any speculations. This could potentially be used against you later on. An experienced attorney will be able to review your specific case and provide you with guidance on the next steps to take. 

Preventative Measures

While it’s impossible to entirely eliminate the risk of staged car accidents, there are proactive steps that drivers can take to minimize their vulnerability. Stay alert while on the road, maintain a safe following distance, and avoid engaging with aggressive or erratic drivers. Install a dashcam in your vehicle to capture footage of any suspicious activity if you don’t already have one and protect yourself in the event of an accident. Stay safe, stay aware, and drive with caution.

By Elle

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