One of the leading causes of insurance fraud today is what is typically called, “staged auto accidents”. Specifically in California it is a criminal problem and it costs taxpayers. While the insurance industry would like us to believe it is rampant and therefore all cases should be looked upon with skepticism. That is not the case, but caution should not be thrown to the wind and the public needs to educate themselves on how these criminals operate.
Recognizing some common staged accident schemes can assist you in potentially avoiding these types of situations. Two of the most common maneuvers are the “Swoop and Squat” and the “Drive Down” Let’s discuss what these maneuvers are; what to do if you find yourself in this type of situation and most importantly, how to avoid not getting involved in the first place.
The “Swoop and Squat” is the most prevalent of all schemes. This usually involves two cars and they frequently target a single occupancy automobile so there are no witnesses to the collision. The “squat” car usually contains two people, and then positions it in front of the victims’ car. Then they slowly close the distance between you and the other vehicle. Then the “swoop” vehicle quickly changes lanes in front of the “squat” vehicle and stops suddenly. The innocent party rear ends the “squat” car and the “swoop” vehicle typically leaves the scene. The suspects in the “squat” vehicle innocently state that “this vehicle came out of nowhere and forced me to brake”.
If you find yourself in an accident situation and suspect that it is a staged event, don’t hesitate to call the authorities immediately. Stay at the scene until a police report has been filed and do not accept responsibility for the accident. Additionally, get as much information as possible; driver’s license numbers, names, addresses, count the individuals in the other car and note injuries and take pictures if you can. Often times these professionals will dispute the injuries, car damages and the number of persons involved.
In addition to the suspects in the other car, there can be “staged” witnesses who approach you after the incident. They might try to convince you to use certain repair shops, medical personnel or even questionable lawyers.
It is so important to choose the right attorney to handle your case if you have sustained any type of personal injury in a car accident. Allen, Flatt, Ballidis and Leslie have several decades of experience between them and are among the highest rated attorneys in Orange County and throughout California. It is important to have experienced, hard-working lawyers on your side.
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has some easy safety tips to protect you and avoid being a victim in this type of insurance fraud.
· 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 car in front of you suddenly jams on its brakes.
· Look beyond the car in front of you while driving and be defensive. Apply your brakes slowly if you see traffic slowing.
· Count how many passengers were in the other car if you’re in a collision. Get their names, in fact all contact information. Typically more people than were in the vehicle might file claims than were in the car. Also get the car’s license number.
· Try to keep a pen and paper, and even a disposable camera in your car’s glove box at all times.
These schemes typically target owners of new cars, older drivers and solo occupants of vehicles. If you suspect that you’ve been the target of insurance fraud, don’t hesitate to make a report to your local authorities.