Auto accidents are all too common across the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2012 Quick Facts publication, the most recent year in which data was reported, there were 33,561 people killed and more than two million people injured in motor vehicle collisions. Despite the dangers and potentially serious consequences, there are people who are purposely causing auto accidents. Staged accidents, as these types of wrecks are commonly known, are an increasing popular scam being used throughout the country. Scammers draw unknowing drivers into collisions and then file insurance claims for large payouts.
Common staged scenarios
Staged accidents are created to appear as though they were, like most motor vehicle accidents, unintentional. There are a number of common staged scenarios, however, that scam artists use to take advantage of unsuspecting motorists. These include:
A dishonest driver traveling in front of an unsuspecting motorist brakes suddenly, usually leaving no time to react so that the innocent driver rear-ends them. In some cases, there will be several passengers in the scammer’s vehicle, so more injury claims can be filed and more money received.
Wave in or drive down
As a driver is trying to merge into traffic, or change lanes, a seemingly helpful driver waves them in only to accelerate and run into the merging motorist. Then, when law enforcement arrive on the scene, the driver of the suspect vehicle claims he or she did not wave the other driver in to make it appear they were being careless.
At intersections that have two left-hand turn lanes, a scammer may drift over and sideswipe an innocent driver’s vehicle as they turn. Since it is typically one driver’s word against that of the other in these types of collisions, the dishonest driver often works with witnesses who corroborate his or her story to police.
It can be difficult for a person to know that he or she has been the victim of a staged accident. In addition to watching out for the commonly used scenarios, there are some other warning signs that can also be used to help a person identify a potential scam. Signs that a wreck was staged include:
- Complaints of neck pain that seem unreasonable given the severity of the collision
- Passengers that appear to be feeling fine, but begin to act injured or in pain when law enforcement arrives
- A number of “witnesses” suddenly appearing at the scene after the accident
- Pushiness, from the other driver or others on the scene, to use a specific repair shop, doctor or attorney
Although it can be difficult to identify and prove that an accident was staged, those who fall victim to these scams have rights. Anyone who thinks he or she may have been the victim of a staged accident may want to consider speaking with an attorney to learn about his or her options.