ON JUST ONE STRETCH OF ROAD – IN THIS CASE THE I-15 CORRIDOR THROUGH METROPOLITAN LAS VEGAS – as many as 25 suspected cases of staged accidents targeting big rigs were reported to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in the 12-18 months ending March 2013.
Unfortunately, it’s a growing trend nationwide. While it seems beyond reason to place yourself in a vehicle in front of an 80,000 pound truck and voluntarily slam on your brakes to cause deliberate impact, there are people actually willing to do this. Despite the risk of serious injury to themselves and others, they are lured by the potential financial reward, knowing the large liability coverage attached to commercial haulers.
The California Highway Patrol describes a typical scenario, called a “swoop and squat” case, where three vehicles may box in a truck, one to the left, another to the right and one in front. The “swoop” car on the left abruptly changes lanes, causing the “squat” car in front of the truck to quickly brake. The third car is in place to prevent the truck from switching lanes to avoid impact. Of course, this is only one scenario. Ultimately, only one car with a driver brave enough – or one might argue, foolish enough – to stop in front of a tractor trailer is all that is needed to stage an accident.
While there is little drivers can do to prevent this irrational behavior, there is something which can be helpful in proving a case after an incident – documentation. Use your cell phone camera to take pictures or video of the scene, particularly if you can show that there was no traffic or debris in the road that would have required an abrupt stop. In addition, take pictures of the car, license plate, driver and any occupants before they exit their vehicle. Scammers will often change their story, from who was driving to how many passengers were involved, if they believe it can lead to a larger settlement. Nor is it unheard of for some passengers to be unwitting participants in the criminal’s scheme. For instance, day laborers may be picked up and told they are being shuttled to a job, when in reality, they are simply being used as “bodies” to increase the potential payoff.
Your greatest weapon, not only in staged accidents, but in every claim, is proof positive of the circumstances. Anything you can do to provide details is a huge help and greatly increases odds of a fair, quick settlement.
Should you suspect fraudulent activity, please contact Canal’s toll-free SIU HOTLINE AT 877.561.1599 OR EMAIL SIU@CANAL-INS.COM.