You’ve probably heard of staged accidents, or seen them on television or in movies, but did you realize they really do happen?
Here’s the scenario: You’re driving along, everything seems to be ok, but then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a car crashes into you in a parking lot. Perhaps the damage doesn’t appear extensive, and it seems obvious that the fault belongs to the other driver, but you find yourself accused of being at fault.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that staged accidents are up 46% from 2007 to 2009, and the states with the highest staged incidents are Florida, New York, California, Texas and Illinois. Arizona ranks 10th, high enough to cause concern.
What’s even more concerning about staged accidents is that often they are so well-planned that fake witnesses might be involved, additional passengers might claim injuries (people who weren’t even in the vehicle), and medical providers might prescribe treatments that really aren’t necessary – all for a nice payoff.
How can you avoid being a victim of a staged accident? Here are a few tips:
1. Call the police so they can write a police report. Do this no matter the extent of the damage.
2. Keep a camera with you and take pictures of the accident, the damage, and the people who were in the car who hit you. This is fairly easy to do now that many cell phones have a camera feature.
3. Take note of the number of people who were in the car who hit you. Get their names, phone numbers, addresses, and driver’s license numbers also. Don’t just focus on the driver.
4. Do not tailgate, as the driver in front of you may slam on their brakes for no apparent reason. This is an easy method for a scam artist to turn you into a victim.
5. If you require any medical treatments, keep careful records to make sure none of the treatment costs were inflated or fictitious.
6. Contact the Arizona Department of Insurance Fraud Unit if you suspect a medical provider, auto body shop, mechanic, or anyone else has committed fraud.
Nothing is worse than being in an auto accident and then finding out it was staged. Protect yourself.