When all states are ranked, South Carolina comes in seventh for the highest number of staged auto accidents. Staged crashes are crashes that are engineered by criminals to con insurance companies, and often involve innocent motorists. The problem has reached crisis proportions in South Carolina, with fraudulent claims at least tripling in the past few years, largely due to organized crime activity. In addition to being in the top 10 states for insurance fraud, South Carolina ranks at the bottom when it comes to prosecuting insurance fraud. There are not enough resources devoted to enforcement. There are some steps that you can take to protect yourself against getting scammed. Learning about the most common schemes is a great place to start.
Scammers are known to cause car accidents with innocent motorists, usually aiming to cause only a minor wreck in the $2,000 – $10,000 range. But staging an accident with an unwilling and unwitting participant is highly dangerous, and can result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Some of the common scams are:
- T-Bones – In the T-bone scam, a “trained” driver will wait for you to go through an intersection, then T-bone you. False witnesses are planted, and they will tell police that you are the one who ran the red light.
- Dual-turn sideswipe – In this scenario, a person driving in the outside lane swipes the driver in the inside lane as they are both turning. Again, planted witnesses will tell police that you were the one who veered into his or her lane.
- The stop short – In this common scheme, a driver slams on the brakes, making it almost impossible for the tailing driver to avoid rear-ending them.
- Dual stop – When a car suddenly stops in front of you, your inclination is to swerve to avoid the vehicle. Con artists know this, and instead of going with a basic “stop short” con, they employ a second vehicle to pull up beside you and block you from swerving to avoid the collision.
- Wave fake-out – In this scam, a driver will ride around until he or she sees someone attempting to change lanes. They give a courtesy wave, saying, “go ahead,” then accelerate. When the police arrive, they deny having waved you in.
- Faked injuries – In any of these scams, the driver will often claim that they suffer from injuries that they did not actually suffer. These con artists usually employ a chiropractor or doctor to corroborate their false claims.
- Tow scams – Sometimes after these staged accidents, a tow truck driver will show up without you having called them. Be extremely careful, this may be a second attempt to make money. They may be part of the scam crew, and charge you highly inflated rates for the tow.
Preventing and Handling Accident Scams
To prevent scams, stay vigilant and keep a charged camera phone with you at all times, as well as a pen and paper. Women and older drivers may be at greater risk, as con artists may perceive that they are more easily intimidated. If you have been in any type of accident, take photos and notes, and get the names and contact information of all witnesses.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Get Justice for Victims of Accident Scams
If you suspect that you have been subject to an accident scam, contact a Columbia car accident lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. today. With six office locations throughout South Carolina, we represent injured victims and their families throughout the state. To learn more, call us today at 803-929-3600 to arrange a free consultation or contact us online.
We assist clients in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.