Like you, I do my best to avoid getting into a car crash any time I get behind the wheel.
S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, however, says more drivers in the state are faking car accidents so they can file lawsuits and rake in "free" money. According to Wilson, South Carolina is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to staged car accidents.
Although it's hard to imagine someone putting their life at risk to fake a car wreck, ten people were charged with insurance fraud in November after faking crashes and falsifying medical bills, the Charleston Post and Courier reported.
How Do You Fake a Car Accident?
Here are a couple of strategies auto insurance fraudsters use:
- A scammer motions to another driver that it is OK to merge in front of them, but then the scammer speeds up, causing a collision that police will likely blame on the other driver.
- A scammer pulls in front of another driver and, with the help of an accomplice in the back seat, slams the brakes when the other driver is distracted, resulting in a rear-end collision.
For information on other scams to look out for, check out these tips from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
How Does it Affect Personal Injury Lawyers and the Insurance Industry?
The NICB says these kinds of scams cost the insurance industry billions of dollars every year. This, of course, means that it also affects drivers like you and me, because insurance companies pass those kinds of costs along to their customers in the form of higher premiums.
Law enforcement leaders say law-abiding drivers are also hurt by the scams because they tie up emergency personnel and police officers who are needed at the scene of real accidents. In response, the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has begun training local law enforcement officers on how to recognize staged accidents.
It can also hurt the vast majority of people who file personal injury claims from car wrecks - insurance companies are always looking for ways to deny claims or minimize payouts, and the insurance company is going to claim that a car wreck is staged any time they believe it will be a valid defense to paying a claim.
The insurance industry would also like the public to believe that fake auto accidents are a pervasive problem because it "poisons" the potential jury pool, making jurors skeptical in legitimate car accident cases.
Are Attorneys in On It?
I doubt it. The last thing we, or any ethical personal injury lawyer, want is to take on a lawsuit based on fraud.
First of all, it's illegal and antithetical to what we do. We would also be likely to lose such a case, and we are not in business to lose money. And, of course, assisting a client who is engaged in fraud would result in professional discipline and possible disbarment of the attorney - it would likely be the end of their career.
Before we take on any auto accident claim, we evaluate the case to make sure the claim is valid, the other driver was negligent, and that their negligence caused our client's injuries. If the case doesn't meet these criteria, we turn it down - above all else, we want to preserve our firm's reputation for filing only valid claims for real clients.
At Axelrod and Associates, we investigate every auto accident claim before filing a lawsuit or making a claim - we represent plaintiffs who have been injured by negligent drivers and who deserve full compensation for their claims.
If you have been injured in a car wreck in the Myrtle Beach, Conway, Georgetown, or Rock Hill areas, call now at (843) 916-9300 or contact us online to set up a free initial consultation and case evaluation.