Auto Accident Fraud
Auto accident fraud is typically white collar insurance fraud that is committed to collect money from insurance companies for injuries that were not sustained and repairs that were never performed. Auto accident fraud costs insurers an estimated $14 billion dollars annually. In 2002, more than 30,000 cases of auto insurance fraud were investigated by state insurance fraud bureaus. One third of all bodily injury insurance claims involve some degree of auto accident fraud against the insurance company.
There are many reasons why auto accident fraud is committed. Some people feel that they are entitled to compensation from insurance companies for the money they have paid in policy premiums. Others perceive auto accident fraud as an easy way to get money. Auto insurance fraud can occur when medical professionals inflate the cost of medical treatment for injuries sustained in an accident or claim that a victim suffered injuries s/he did not receive. Auto insurance fraud can also be perpetrated by auto body and repair shops that charge for uncompleted work or replacement costs when a part was only repaired, or inflate their costs to cheat auto accident victims or insurance companies.
Auto accident fraud can occur when a criminal intentionally causes an accident that is made to look like the unsuspecting victim's fault. There are a number of ways that a criminal can stage an accident including: swooping in front of a victim and slamming on the brakes to cause a rear-end collision, slowing down to let you into traffic but crashing into you to make it look like your fault, and sideswiping a victim if they drift into the outer lane while turning. A "runner" may also appear at the scene of an accident to urge an accident victim to use a particular (fraudulent) medical professional or car repair shop.
Victims of auto accident fraud can suffer significant damage as a result of this crime. Victims may have their lives severely interrupted by having to deal with all the consequences of auto accident fraud. Victims may suffer a permanent accident record on their auto insurance which can lead to increased premiums or dropped coverage. Auto accident fraud victims can also be terrorized, injured or killed as a result of an accident scam gone awry.
There are many ways that people can protect themselves from auto accident fraud. While on the road the following precautions can be taken: never tailgate, don't put an insurance decal on your car, be aware of other cars/drivers around you, keep a disposable camera in the car, and always call the police to file an accident report regardless of the severity of the accident. After an accident you can avoid auto accident fraud by exercising scrutiny when choosing a doctor or repair shop, comparing bills to insurance estimates, and contacting your state or the federal insurance fraud bureau to report possible auto accident fraud.
If you have been injured in an accident that may involve auto accident fraud you may wish to report or case to state or federal authorities. A personal injury attorney can also be an excellent source of help in determining auto accident fraud while protecting your rights and interests in a case.
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