In February 2013, two men from Meade County entered a plea of guilty to charges of arson and insurance fraud. According to the report, Kentucky State Police said Joseph Ross pled to 10 years and Joshua Fuqua pled to seven years for their involvement in a staged accident to collect money from the insurance policy. In June 2011, a pickup truck drove into a motor home, and the case was initially marked a motor vehicle accident. After an investigation, it was found that the accident was staged. Ross and Fuqua were arrested upon that discovery.
Are staged accidents common?
Staged accidents are actually more common then we think. They are something we should be aware of so we can avoid them. According to the DMV, staged car accident scam artists tend to be vulnerable to facts. The more information you provide, the less inclined the scam artist will be to follow through with the charade. So, when you're driving, it’s not a bad idea to have a camera (the camera on your phone is perfect), pen and paper in your vehicle. This way, if you're involved in an accident, you can validate any suspicions with facts. Snap photos from every angle of the involved vehicles, with special focus on the damage. Also, take a picture of the license plate, as well as photos of all the passengers in the other vehicle.
Are there different types of staged accidents?
Here are some of the types of staged car accidents:
- Swoop and Stop - This is when a driver passes your car, jumps right in front of you and slams on their brakes causing you to rear end them. The driver may pretend to have back or neck injuries in an attempt to get more money out of your insurance company.
- The Wave - This is when a driver waves you to proceed, but as you're going, they ram into you. For example, you're approaching a four way stop to make a left. When you get there, you and another driver get to the four-way stop at the same time. The other driver waves you on to go, so you start to make you left turn. However, before you're out of the way, the other driver goes and slams into your car, causing an accident. This is when the other driver will claim that they never waved you on and that you never stopped at the stop sign. Instead, you ran the stop sign and hit them.
- The Use of Deceitful People - This is when a shady driver hires other people to act as witnesses to an accident. These "witnesses" will come over to your car and tell you that you should go to this doctor, body shop or even attorney to help you with your accident. However, the "witnesses" may be working with the shady driver and leading you into a trap where the doctor may not treat you for your actual symptom, the body shop will charge you more or not fix the actual problem with your car and the attorney may pressure you into a lawsuit that wasn't necessary. So, if you're in an accident where witnesses suggest doctors, body shops or other places to you, make sure to get other people's opinions, too. Find people who were not at the accident site. You can even ask your insurance company for suggestions. That way you can avoid these stressful and unnecessary situations.
What to do if this happens to you
We do not want this to happen to you. If you are ever involved in an accident, whether the other driver did it on purpose or not, it's important to always take detailed notes. Record the general height, weight and ethnicity of the other car's driver and passengers. You will also want to do the following:
- Always call the police. This is especially imperative if you suspect something may be in question.
- Never settle on site with cash. Report the accident and/or accident claim to your auto insurance company. If you feel the other driver hit you on purpose, make sure to tell your insurance company about that too.
- Be careful with how much personal information you disclose. You don't want to discover two weeks later that your identity has been stolen.
In addition, you should get this information from the other driver:
- Driver's license number
- Vehicle registration information
- Car insurance information
- Name, address and phone number
As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I know it's hard to avoid every accident. It can be frustrating, especially if you believe the other driver hit you on purpose. If you're ever in an accident, call the police so they can file an accident report. You should then go see a doctor to make sure you are okay. If you feel the other driver caused the accident on purpose and feel that legal action is necessary, then you will want to contact a personal injury attorney. They will guide you through your case so you can focus on recovering.