It may seem like something out of a network TV drama, but car insurance scams are very real: con artists will in fact crash another vehicle into yours, solely for the purpose of faking an injury and collecting insurance money. These instances of fraud are known as “staged accidents”. A staged accident has the potential to leave you injured, with a damaged vehicle, and with more expensive insurance premiums. Knowing what some of the most common car crash scams are, and how to avoid them, can help protect you and your family.
The Swoop and Squat
Also called a forced rear-ending scam, the swoop and squat is an attempt to crash the front of your vehicle into the back of the scammers’ vehicle. The scammer will be driving next to you before swerving in to your lane and slamming on the brakes. If you’re unable to stop in time, you will smash into the back of the scammer’s vehicle. The dangers of such a scam are obvious; the scammer is willfully causing a car crash, putting everyone involved at risk of serious injury. The scam often works because in most circumstances, rear-end collisions are the fault of the trailing vehicle. The scammer may claim an injury even if the resulting collision was minor. You can avoid this scam by scanning ahead for traffic and leaving plenty of room for vehicles, allowing yourself to come to a quick stop. Installing a dash cam could also provide evidence of the scammers’ intent.
The Drive Down
Also called a staged accident, the drive down occurs when a driver who has the right of way waves you ahead. When you take advantage of the seemingly nice offer to merge, proceed into traffic, or claim that parking spot, the scammer slams into your vehicle on purpose. When the police arrive, the scammer will deny having waved at you to go ahead, leaving you at fault for the collision. And again, even if the collision is minor, the scammer may attempt to file an injury insurance claim against you. This scam can be foiled by always following right of way, even if someone offers a “friendly” wave. In certain drive down scenarios, a dash cam may also catch the scammer imploring you to go ahead, which can be provided as evidence.
Another type of staged accident, the sideswipe occurs when a scammer purposefully slams into your vehicle if you accidentally stray into another lane. This will typically happen at an intersection with two turn lanes, especially if you’re turning from the inner lane. Many drivers will inadvertently swing their vehicle too wide when turning from the inner-left turn lane into the left-most driving lane. Scammers take advantage of this, and will strike your vehicle on purpose, placing you at fault for the collision. This will again lead to a likely insurance claim against you. Avoid this scam by being extra vigilant when using dual turn lanes. A dash cam will probably not help you in this case, as the scammer will only hit your vehicle if you are indeed positioned improperly.
The Bad Actors
This scam typically occurs after a collision has already happened. Also called “shady helpers”, bad actors will approach you after the crash in an attempt to provide you with information that may “help”, such as an auto body repair shop, doctor, or even an attorney. These people and businesses may be frauds attempting to cash in on your legitimate insurance claim, or even to process a fraudulent insurance claim without you knowing. Avoid this scam by only providing your contact and insurance information to parties relevant to the crash, such as other involved drivers.
Contact a Legitimate Attorney
If you believe you are not at fault for your collision, contact an experienced car accident law firm. A personal injury attorney can evaluate your situation and tell you if you have any legal options to fight the insurance scammers and clear your driving record. The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth provides free consultations to anyone involved in a car accident. Call us today at 888-517-9888!