Staged Crashes

Monday, June 29th 2009, 9:05 pm
By: News 9

It's hard to imagine wanting to put my life at risk just to collect a few insurance bucks! But some people are in what's called "Staged Crashes" to do just that. It seems basic, but the best way to avoid being a victim is to pay attention while driving.

Here are more details from USAA:

There are 3 main types of "staged crashes":

Panic Stop.

The scamming driver looks for unsuspecting drivers who aren't paying attention (texting, talking on cell phone, putting on make-up, yelling at their children, etc.) The bad guy will position his car in front of the unsuspecting vehicle, and then hit the brakes, causing the unsuspecting driver to slam into the back of the bad guys car. The scammer will claim he stopped because of an animal or debris in the road. Because the driver who makes contact from behind is always at fault, the scammer now has the ability to make an insurance claim against your insurer.

Swoop and Squat.

A suspect vehicle is driving recklessly...and suddenly swoops in front of you or more likely a car directly in front of you...and jams on the brakes, causing a rear-end collision. Often the suspect car has passengers who pretend to have painful back or neck injuries, even though the collision was at low speed. The driver and passengers then make large collision and injury claims against your auto policy.

Drive Down.

You're at a multi-way stop or trying to merge into traffic, and a dishonest driver slows down and waves you forward. He then crashes into your car, but denies waving you into traffic and blames the accident on you. Crooked drivers may also wave you out of a parking space with the same come-on.

The price consumers pay

Record blemished. You have a costly claim on your insurance record - this could raise your auto premiums hundreds of dollars, or even mean your policy isn't renewed.

Victims terrorized, killed. Innocent drivers are terrorized, injured and even killed by these schemes. One entire family, including an infant daughter, died when their car was hit by a truck when a staged accident went wrong.

Life disrupted. Your life is disrupted as you deal with the seemingly endless details of car repairs, claim settlement, police reports, lawyers, possible lawsuits and other problems.

Premiums rise. Everyone's auto premiums rise because insurance companies pass the costs of bogus claims onto honest policyholders. Depending on the area, all consumers insurance premiums can pay between $100 - $300 per year, specifically because of insurance fraud.

Steps you can take:

* Pay attention. Don't text, talk on cell phone, put on make-up, etc. Don't do anything that can cause your focus to move away from what is in front of you.

* Never tailgate - allow plenty of space between your car and the car ahead of you. This will give you ample time to stop if the lead car suddenly jams on its brakes.

* Look beyond the car in front of you while driving. Apply your brakes if you see traffic slowing.

If you suspect you're involved in a staged accident:

* Count how many passengers were in the other car if you're in a collision. Get their names, phone numbers and driver's license - more people may file claims than were in the car. Also get the car's license number. Note: Keep a pen and paper in your glove compartment so you're always ready.

* How do the passengers behave? Did they stand around and joke, but suddenly act "injured" when the police arrived?

* If you don't have a cell phone with a camera, keep a disposable camera in your glovebox. Take pictures of the other car, the damage it received - and the passengers.

* Call the police to the scene. Get a police report with the officer's name, even for minor damage. If the police report notes just a small dent or scratch, it'll be harder for crooks to later claim serious injuries or car damage.

* Get involved if you're a witness. Watch for the warning signs of a scam, and help the honest victim with details.

* Only see medical and legal providers you know and trust, or at least ones that are recommended by people you trust. Never let yourself be suckered by a stranger off the streets.

* Check out your doctor or lawyer. Contact your state medical licensing board to ensure your doctor is licensed and has no complaints.

Contact the American Bar Association to see if your lawyer has been disciplined for unethical behavior.