Being involved in a car accident can be a life-changing experience. You may be injured and your car may be demolished. You may lose time at work and your insurance premiums may skyrocket. Accidents happen and sometimes they cannot be avoided. But, did you know that some accidents are planned? A New Jersey man pleaded guilty to staging 2 car accidents which paid out almost $180,000 in insurance claims. Unfortunately, accident staging is not the only type of scam out there. Here's what every driver need to know about car accident scams.
How Car Accidents Are Staged
It's hard to imagine, but there are people who are unscrupulous enough to actually cause a car accident for the money even though they risk causing injuries to themselves. You are probably wondering how it's possible to stage a car accident without the perpetrator becoming seriously injured. It's because most of these types of accidents happen at low speeds. That way, the risks of injuries are minimal. Here are a few examples of a staged car accident.
- Someone swoops in front of your car and immediately slams on the brakes.
- Someone waves you through an intersection and then slams into the side of your car.
- Someone sideswipes your car and claims you veered into his or her lane.
These types of accidents are enough to cause extensive damage to both vehicles. Sometimes, if the damage is not severe enough, the perpetrator may cause more damages to his or her own vehicle after the accident but before the insurance adjustor has a chance to look it over. Because of this, it's a good idea to take pictures of all vehicles involved in the crash, not just yours.
Be On the Lookout for Accident Chasers
There are also scam artists who operate after a car accident. They tune in to police scanners to listen to reports of car accidents. Then, they drive their tow truck to the crash site to attempt to pick up the crashed vehicles before the legitimate towing services arrive. Then, they take the vehicles to specific auto body shops for repairs… one that may give them a cut of the profits from the insurance claim.
Auto body shops can also be in on the scam. They may use inferior replacement parts instead of quality parts, and pocket the difference. As an example, the use of counterfeit airbags is one of the most common scams against insurance claims.
To protect yourself from these types of scams, it is important to only work with towing services and auto body shops that have been approved by your insurance company. When your vehicle is ready to be picked up be sure to thoroughly inspect it before you sign on the dotted line. Your signature means that you accept the condition of the vehicle and the repairs that were made.
Hire an Attorney to Investigate the Crash
Personal injury attorneys often handle car accident cases that are not cut-and-dry. While accident staging and scams are criminal offenses, they usually aren't recognized as such at the time of accidents. Sometimes, these crimes are discovered by attorneys when they do their investigations. The attorney may use a computer program to replicate the accident. Sometimes, attorneys go to the scene of the accident to determine what the roadway and driving conditions may have been. If the attorney determines that the accident may have been staged, criminal charges can be filed against the perpetrator.
Being involved in a car accident is already challenging enough without adding the criminal aspect of a staged accident. Hopefully, you will be able to recognize a staged accident and other scams if they ever happen to you.