Car accident fraud isn’t something that the insurance companies make up in order to justify higher premiums. It is a real thing. In fact, it is such a problem that Los Angeles County recently received a $6.9 million grant in order to crack down on the number of staged car crashes and fraudulent insurance claims since it has been recently been dubbed the fake car accident capital of California and possibly even the country.
When it comes to fake car accidents, most of us think of a staged rear end accident involving a few individuals looking to make a few extra bucks or get a new car, car accident fraud is much more sophisticated than that. There are car insurance fraud rings that include the perpetrators of the accidents, crooked doctors diagnosing fake injuries, fake eye witnesses testifying to incorrect details and even unethical personal injury lawyers who fight the fake claims in court. These rings have accident fraud nailed down to a science and bilk insurance companies out of millions of dollars each and every year. These losses ultimately get passed down to consumers who purchase insurance policies and pay higher premiums for coverage.
So, what can you do to stop this rampant abuse?
First, it’s important to understand the physiology of car accident fraud and then delve into what you can do if you think you’ve been the victim of a staged collision.
Staged Car Accidents
The term car accident fraud refers to the actual physical event where one or more vehicles collides with another vehicle or other property and causes damage to the car, the property and/or the operator of the vehicle. Auto insurance provides financial protection to people who operative vehicles in the event they are involved in a car accident by paying for certain expenses such as vehicle repair or replacement, property repair or replacement and certain medical coverages both at the time of the accident and during a specified follow up period. A staged car accident requires willing participants to engage in certain acts that cause an accident in order to procure funds through the filing of false insurance claims.
For example, a fraudster may drive directly in front of an unsuspecting driver while an accomplice pilots another vehicle in front of it and slams on his or her brakes, causing a chain reaction and the innocent victim to slam into the rear of the first fraudster’s vehicle. The fraudster then files a claim with the victim’s insurance company and collects payment on damages that may include damage to the vehicle, medical injuries and more. And this is just one scenario that is commonly used by con artists looking to make a buck.
If You Suspect Accident Fraud
If you have been involved in an accident, real of fraudulent, there are some things you need to do to protect yourself and your insurance company from paying out more than what is required.
- First, document everything. Take pictures of the damage, the license plates of the other car involved, photo IDs, insurance cards and the driver themselves, if possible. Pictures are worth a thousand words and also prevent the other party from doing any further damage to the vehicle after the fact and making additional claims on that.
- Write down driver’s license numbers, car insurance information, car details like year, make and model, the driver’s telephone number and address, details about how the accident occurred and the tag number. If possible, have the police also come out and document the accident. If there are witnesses and/or other passengers in the car, collect their names, phone numbers, and addresses as well.
- Never admit guilt or take any offers to settle on site. It is important that the accident goes through the proper channels and is reported to your insurance company. All financial transactions should be handled by your insurer. If there are any requests for compensation at the site of the accident, report that to your insurer as well.
Whatever you do, do not hesitate to contact an experienced accident attorney to discuss your options.
Car accidents are stressful enough without the additional stress of worrying that you have been a victim of fraud. For more information on how to protect yourself, download our free Auto Accident e-Book or call a car accident attorney at Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm today at 214-526-7900.