Staged Accidents and Fraud: A Threat to Accident Prevention
A Threat to Accident Prevention
While your company looks for methods of accident prevention for your drivers, some less honest people look to take advantage of trucking companies for a big payout. These scammers like to stage accidents in the hopes of settling or getting large sums during a lawsuit.
This threat means safety managers need to have more diligence when it comes to accident prevention methods. Safety for your drivers and your company when it comes to scammers requires diligence. You need to understand the threats they will face so you can put a plan in place.
The Case that Started an Investigation
While staged accidents aren’t anything new, a case from 2017 has come back into focus as one woman involved in a conspiracy to commit fraud recently pled guilty. This makes her the 28th person convicted in an ongoing federal investigation into a ring of scammers in New Orleans.
Aisha Thompson and five co-conspirators staged an accident in New Orleans September 2017. Ms. Thompson, who was not at the scene when the staged accident occurred, joined family members and friends in filing a false police report.
The false report claimed a different driver than who originally sideswiped a truck owned by Averitt Express. It also claimed Thompson was in the vehicle during the accident. Along with the false report, Thompson made claims she had suffered a back injury during the crash.
Thompson, her co-conspirators, and her attorney shared a $30,000 settlement from Averitt’s insurance company. In March of 2020, she finally admitted to the FBI that she was not in the vehicle and that they had staged the accident.
Staged Accidents and Insurance Fraud
Federal investigators estimate one hundred accidents were staged in the New Orleans area, with attorneys and medical personnel participating in the scam. To date, 40 defendants have been charged, including one attorney who represented 77 plaintiffs in falsified court claims related to 31 staged accidents.
The attorney, Danny Keating, paid conspirators to set up the accidents, then split the insurance payouts with those involved. Indictments have referenced three attorneys as part of the staged accidents.
Another of the cases in New Orleans involved two vehicles targeting a Triple G Express truck. The truck’s dash cam proved the incident was a scam and the passengers were forced to withdraw their claim once the video showed them intentionally colliding with the truck.
These staged accidents are a threat to accident prevention as it is difficult for drivers to prepare for an intentional crash. These scams often involve entire teams, including medical and legal personnel working with fake victims and fake witnesses to defraud trucking companies and insurance companies.
Types of Staged Accidents
Many believe these staged accidents are a consequence of increased verdicts awarding $1 million or more in lawsuits. These larger payouts have increased 1,054% since 2011. The success of plaintiff attorneys in winning huge verdicts has put a bullseye on trucking companies for staged accident scammers.
These cases share similarities. There will be multiple people in the vehicle, and often staged witnesses. Allegations of a crash with the commercial vehicle with minimal damage to the claimant’s vehicle and little to no damage to the truck.
There are a couple of methods scammers use to stage an accident:
- T-Bone Scam: The scammer waits for a commercial vehicle to move through an intersection, then accelerates to make impact with the truck. They usually work with accomplices who act as witnesses to claim the truck ran a traffic light or stop sign.
- Sideswipe Scam: The scammer will wait until the truck driver is switching lanes, then accelerates to collide with the truck. They may also drive into the truck’s lane to sideswipe the vehicle, then blame the accident on the driver.
- Swoop and Stop Scam: This involves scammers in multiple vehicles. One vehicle will suddenly pull in front of the truck and stop, while other vehicles box the truck in to prevent the driver from moving to avoid the accident.
The last is less common as the potential for serious injury is greater with this method. The threat of staged accidents means drivers need to be even more vigilant on the road though.
How do You Protect Your Drivers and Your Company?
Most trucking companies have started using dash cams in all their vehicles to help reduce the chance of fraudulent claims. These cameras show what happens leading up to the accident so drivers can show intent on the part of a scammer.
The driver should also take pictures immediately at the scene of an accident. Thorough training on what to do at the scene is also helpful to reduce fraudulent claims. Making this training part of your safety management program can prepare drivers on what to look for and what information to record.
A good safety training solution will also help drivers be more vigilant, so they reduce the threat of a staged accident. Arm your drivers with accident prevention knowledge with Infinit-I Workforce Solutions. Request a demo to find out more about the training solutions that can help you protect your drivers and your company.