It is an unfortunate reality of the world we live in that some people simply do not tell the truth. In cases of staged auto accidents where people fake a collision to receive money from their insurance company or by suing an innocent party, they end up making it more difficult (once they are caught) for other people with legitimate injuries due to a real car accident, since doctors and insurance companies feel they must be on their guard in case someone is fibbing.
In May of this year, the state of New York indicted eight people for staged auto accident conspiracy. According to the indictment, the defendants staged auto accidents and later falsely claimed physical injuries as a result of the accidents.
According to the charges, from March 2009 through July 2011, the defendants rented U-Haul trucks and drove with one or more co-conspirators posing as passengers. They drove to locations in Kings and Nassau Counties where they either intentionally hit or were hit intentionally by vehicles driven and occupied by other co-conspirators.
After the accidents, the defendants then sought medical treatment for injuries they claimed to have suffered during the staged accidents. The defendants later filed fraudulent insurance claims of over two million dollars, and allegedly collected on over a million dollars in payment for their claimed injuries and medical treatment.
Because of the fraudulent behavior of these people, they were slapped with a plethora of consequences. The brains behind the operation faced up to twenty years in prison, with the rest likely to face at least seven, on charges of insurance fraud and grand larceny. Most were arrested and placed into custody on bonds of varying amounts, the highest being $25,000. All alleged perpetrators were also forced to give up their passports.
Staged auto accidents put NY drivers at risk
Staged auto accidents can be tantamount to being forced into a game of bumper cars by fraudsters seeking to enrich themselves at your expense. Because of the increasing frequency of these fake accidents, even after Gov. Andrew Cuomo criminalized staged auto accidents, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some highly-used scenarios so that you can be on your guard.
The most common types of staged auto accidents include:
• Sideswipe. While making a left turn from a dual-turn lane, your vehicle drifts slightly into the other lane for a moment. The driver in the other left-turn lane intentionally sideswipes you, then accuses you of reckless driving.
• Drive down. While attempting to merge into freeway traffic, a driver waves you forward, but instead of letting you in, the driver deliberately crashes into your vehicle and blames you for the accident.
• The wave. While attempting to change lanes, another driver gestures you over. Just as you complete the lane change, the driver hits your vehicle.
• Swoop and squat. A car suddenly pulls up in front of you, then slams on the brakes, causing an intentional rear-end crash.
• T-Bone. You cautiously drive through an intersection when a waiting driver intentionally slams into your vehicle. The driver then tells the police you ran the stop sign.
The best way to avoid a staged accident is to drive defensively and observe the following tips:
• Do not tailgate. Leave plenty of distance between your car and the vehicle directly in front of you. By doing so you have more time to slow down if something unexpected happens.
• Look ahead. Traffic patterns often change quickly. Look down the road for signs of sudden shifts in traffic flow and respond accordingly.
• Do not multitask. The time for multitasking is not when you are behind the wheel. Refrain from talking or texting on your cell phone or any other activity that takes your eyes and attention from the road. Another reason for not multitasking while driving is that the driver attempting to cause a fraudulent accident may see you texting or not paying attention and use that after the collision as a means of putting the blame on you.
• Use common sense. If another driver signals you for no apparent reason, you have no obligation to respond or engage in any type of action. Or if you notice erratic or odd behavior from another driver, pull over to the side of the road so they will have to pass you and get away from you or drop back to avoid engaging with that driver. Sometimes, just getting away from the driver can be the best thing you can do to avoid getting stuck in their fraudulent trap.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in New York
When you get into a car accident, you probably would not assume right away that the other driver staged the crash. However, in New York, it happens much more than one would think, which is why it is important to constantly be on the lookout and to pay close attention while driving. After all, you should never take your eyes off the road when you are behind the wheel, because it may give one of these drivers extra incentive to choose you as their scapegoat in a staged accident.
If you read the most common types of staged motor vehicle collisions above and suspect that you or a loved one has been a victim of a staged auto accident in New York, you should talk to a personal injury attorney immediately. At Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP, our attorneys have seen it all, including accidents that have been staged as a means of getting money from either you or an insurance company. Though some staged accidents are harder to prove than others, we have the knowledge of how these fraudsters work as well as years of experience in the field to help you fight your case. Don’t let these foolers get away with ripping you off.
Contact our firm today to arrange a free consultation, and sit down with one of our attorneys at Rosenberg & Gluck to discuss the details of your accident.