In most cases, an auto accident is exactly that: an accident. However, there are those out there who are willing to do anything in order to obtain money, including staging an auto accident. If you have recently found yourself to be the victim of an auto accident scam, there are a few things you can do to handle the situation.
The Scam: The Not So Delicious T-Bone
A "t-bone" accident is a term used to describe one car slamming into the side of another car at an intersection, thus forming a "T" with the two cars. A scam artist will wait as you proceed through an intersection legally before mashing down on the gas pedal in order to ram the side of your car. When the police arrive on the scene, the scammer will likely have "witnesses" available to say that you ran through the intersection illegally.
What to Do
Take a look around to see if there are any other witnesses who possibly saw the accident happen. Ask nearby store owners and drivers in the area. Inspect the intersection carefully for cameras. Witnesses and intersection cameras can help clear your name. If you do not have any priors on your record, you can also use that in a court of law. A clean driving record shows a lawyer and judge that you abide by the rules of the road.
The Scam: The Ultimate Brake Slam
The "brake slam" is a relatively simple scam that is easy for scammers to pull off. It is not uncommon for a person to have to slam on their brakes for various reasons. Perhaps something ran across the road or the driver in front slammed on their brakes, therefore causing a chain reaction. However, the brake slam consists of the scammer mashing down on the brake pedal when there is no reason to do so, thus causing you to run into the back of their car.
What to Do
Proceed as though it were a typical accident. Report the accident to your insurance company, but make sure you let them know that you believe you were the victim of a scam. Also, you will want to contact an auto accident lawyer. If you were the victim of a scam, chances are the scam artist has pulled similar tricks on other people. Your lawyer can investigate to see if the other person has been involved in any other similar accidents to help clear your name.
Avoiding Future Scams
Protect yourself from becoming the victim of an auto accident scam in the future. Staged auto accidents cost the insurance industry roughly $20 billion each year, which goes to show that they are more common than you might think. Protect yourself by doing the following:
- Wave the other driver on: If you and another driver pull up at an intersection and it is just the two of you, wave the other driver on ahead. This allows you to avoid being the victim of a "T-bone" scam, particularly if you have no witnesses to back you up.
- Keep a good distance back: You should remain at least 3 seconds behind a vehicle if you are traveling 35 to 55 miles per hours in good driving conditions. For wet driving conditions, heavy traffic, and faster speeds of between 55 and 75 miles per hour, keep a distance of 4 seconds. For roads that are icy or covered in snow, the safest distance is 7-8 seconds. Maintaining a safe driving distance allows you to avoid the "brake slam."
Work closely with your lawyer to maintain your innocence after an auto accident scam and bring the scammer to justice. Not only will your insurance thank you for it, so will other drivers on the road who could become potential victims.