Be on the Lookout for Auto Accident Scams
You’ve been in an auto accident but something doesn’t feel right about it. Are you being scammed?
Staged accidents, caused intentionally for the purpose of collecting insurance money, are a huge problem for the insurance industry and can add hundreds of dollars each year to insurance premiums. A staged accident is made to look like it was your fault so your insurance company will pay the scammer for their faked injuries and inflated vehicle repair costs. Then your insurance premiums skyrocket.
The scariest part about these accidents is that these are not stuntmen on a closed movie set where everything is controlled. They take place out on the street where anything can happen and a fake crash could turn into a serious and very real accident involving real injuries or even death.
Common Auto Accident Scams
The scammer hits you from the side as you go through an intersection. Normally, this would be the scammer’s fault but they have a “witness” standing by to claim that you ran a red light or stop sign, making it your fault.
This scam occurs when you’re signaling to change lanes or merging onto a highway. He’ll wave you in but instead of yielding to you, he’ll accelerate at the last second so you hit him. He’ll then claim that he never indicated that he was letting you in, that you simply didn’t yield to the traffic.
In this one, a scammer will simply get in front of you and slam on her breaks causing you to rear-end her.
The Swoop and Squat
This scam involves two or three drivers. The “squat” car gets in front of you, possibly another scammer’s car gets next to you to box you in, and another drives in front of the squat car quickly, causing the squat driver to slam on his brakes, in turn causing you to slam into him. The other vehicles drive away.
Tow Truck Scam
Sometimes, the scam involves a tow truck driver that arrives before you’ve had a chance to call one, they “just happen to be driving by”. You don’t want to be stuck by the road longer than you have to so you take him up on his offer to tow your car but it’s for a lot more than a legitimate tow truck service would charge.
Am I at Risk?
Unfortunately, if you drive a car, you are at risk of being the victim of auto accident scammers. While these scams are often merely opportunistic, they do tend to target some drivers more than others, if they can. The more expensive your vehicle or the newer it is, the greater the risk of being a target because you will most likely have good insurance. The same goes for work vehicles and big rigs. They not only have good insurance, they may settle for higher with the scammers. Auto accident scams involve intimidation. They will be loud and angry that you hit them to further their claim that the accident was your fault and convince you of that fact so the elderly and even women may be targeted because the scammers think they’re easier to intimidate.
How to Protect Yourself
The good news is that you are not powerless against auto accident scammers. There are steps you can take to avoid the accident but if you can’t, you can still protect yourself against insurance fraud.
Always be aware of the other vehicles around you and avoid getting distracted by doing things like changing the radio, eating food in your car, or looking at your GPS. It goes without saying, never use your phone while driving!
Drive at a safe distance so you’ll have plenty of time to stop if the person in front of you slams on her brakes.
If you can’t avoid the accident and you think you’re being scammed, call 911, even if it’s a small fender-bender. Describe the accident in detail.
One of the best things about everyone having a phone at all times is that you have a camera on you at all times. Take lots of pictures of your car and theirs and take video, if it feels safe to do so. Video will show how many people were in the other car (believe it or not, scam artists will have accomplices who weren’t even in the vehicle at the time of the crash file insurance claims) as well as their demeanor and physical condition. Sometimes scammers don’t act injured until the police or witnesses arrive.
Look for witnesses.
Question any bystanders you see and get their description of the accident and their contact info.
Get all the info you can.
As with any accident, make sure you get the other driver’s license, registration, insurance, name, address, phone number, and a description of the driver and all of the passengers.
Never deal with the other driver.
Do not make a deal with the other driver for cash or go to a mechanic that she recommends. She may even try to talk you into going through her own physician for your injuries so they can get your info and file false injury claims. Always use your own doctor, your own repair shop, and a trusted tow truck service.
Tell your insurance company.
When you give the details to your insurance company about the accident, let them know that you think the other driver might be scamming you and give them a thorough description of the accident along with any supporting evidence you may have like witness statements.
File a counterclaim.
If you’re being scammed, ask your lawyer about filing a counterclaim.
If you’ve been in an automobile accident, protect yourself by being examined as soon as possible. Even minor accidents can result in injury whose symptoms may not show up right away. Being in an accident with a scammer can be confusing―it’s something the scammers rely on to pull a successful scam. Get checked as soon as you can so that no matter what the outcome of the accident, you are able to file a claim and get treatment for your injuries.
At Integrative Physical Medicine, we know that time is important and we get you in to be examined by one of our physicians as soon as possible, often on the very same day that you call. The doctors at all of our Integrative Physical Medicine locations are experts in diagnosing the often hard-to-diagnose injuries that can happen in auto accidents. If you’ve been in an auto accident, call us today at (321)244-4648.