How to Spot a Staged Car Accident

Not all car crashes are accidents. Some occur on purpose, from someone trying to get money out of an insurance settlement. Insurance fraud is a common crime that costs insurance companies more than $40 billion each year, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Unfortunately, many insurance fraud schemes involve unsuspecting victims who suffer real injuries and damages. Detecting when another driver or “victim” has staged a car accident can help you seek justice for this crime.

Brake-Checking or Sudden Stops

It is common knowledge that the vast majority of rear-end collisions come down to the following driver’s fault. It is also a fact that whiplash injuries frequently occur in rear-end accidents. Whiplash is a musculoskeletal injury that won’t show up on an x-ray. It is therefore a common injury that crash “victims” will fake or exaggerate to obtain a settlement. Some people will go as far as to stage a rear-end collision just for the settlement.

If the driver in front of you keeps making abrupt stops or “brake-checking” you (hitting the brakes suddenly and unexpectedly), he or she could be trying to cause a rear-end collision. Also keep an eye out for someone who pulls beside your vehicle. The driver may speed up, swerve in front of you, and slam on the brakes to try to stage a collision. Insurance companies call this tactic the “swoop and squat.” If you suspect the other driver purposefully caused the rear-end collision, say something to the police.

Suspicious Intersection Accidents

An intersection accident may be a staged crash if the other driver suddenly jets out into the juncture when you had the right of way, colliding into you. The same is true if a pedestrian suddenly steps off the curb when you didn’t have enough time to stop or yield. Fraudsters may gesture for you to go first, purposefully collide into you, then tell police they never gave you the signal. Someone may stage an intersection accident in one of several ways. Be especially wary of inconsistencies in these types of accident claims.

Injuries That Don’t Match the Crash

Someone might have staged the accident if he or she immediately complains of serious – but often difficult-to-prove – injuries, such as whiplash, muscle strain, a soft tissue injury, or a neck or back injury. This is especially true if the accident was minor and hardly caused any property damage. While serious injuries can happen in seemingly minor accidents, you may be part of an insurance fraud scheme.

Trust your instincts if the amount of property damage and the alleged injuries don’t add up. Call 911 and report your suspicions to an officer. Police can gather information about the alleged victim, follow up with medical reports, and make an official note that you suspect insurance fraud. Tell your insurance company your suspicions as well. Since Tennessee is a fault-based insurance state, it will be your insurer that foots the bill if you supposedly caused the accident. Reporting suspected fraud could save you from increased insurance premiums.

Convenient Witnesses

Many staged accidents aren’t the work of just one person, but organized crime groups. Cases in the past have involved groups of people all working together to pull off the insurance fraud. One person will drive, others may suddenly appear and claim they were passengers (with injuries), while still others will act as witnesses. You could be the victim of a staged accident if more people suddenly appear on the scene to back up everything the other driver claims.

Some staged accidents involve witnesses on the scene who encourage or pressure victims to see a certain lawyer or physician. These recommendations may also be part of the insurance fraud scheme. Criminal physicians may diagnose injuries that aren’t there, while seedy attorneys may not be legal professionals at all. Be wary of any professionals whom witnesses at the scene recommend to you. Get a second opinion instead of only consulting with recommendations from strangers and contact our Nashville personal injury attorneys.