Some people commit insurance fraud—just as some people commit other crimes that cost all of us billions of dollars each year. Apparently there has been an insurance scam racket in Colorado by one woman who made 25 claims for injuries from fake car accidents in the Denver area. This is one that has been caught—and hopefully stopped—by Denver area prosecutors, but there may be others out there. So how do you know if you are the victim of a fake car accident?
Here are the common variations of the scam car accident:
- You are following the car in front of you a little too close in "normal" traffic. Suddenly, the scammer puts on the brakes (for no apparent reason) and you hit the rear of the scammer's car.
- While waiting to make a left turn, you see the oncoming car slowing down—but as you make your left turn, the scammer speeds up and hits your car.
- This method requires two scammers working in concert: as you are pulling out of a parking lot or a side street, scammer No. 1 waves for you to go ahead and pull out in from of him. When you do, you are hit by scammer No. 2.
All of these car accident scenarios will result in the police giving you the ticket, because the law presumes that the driver who strikes the rear of a car in normal traffic is negligent. A similar fault presumption applies to a driver who makes a left turn in front of oncoming traffic, or who pulls out into a road into oncoming traffic. Because you are presumed to be at fault under the law, your auto insurance company will not listen to your protests of innocence and will quickly pay the scammer's property damage claim—as well as the injury claim that may be made by the scammer. The scammers don't make big claims for property damage—or for injury claims—but they know that the insurance companies want to make small payments of any claim very quickly, and with minimal or no investigation.
Insurance scams have been rampant in California for years and now, apparently, a few scam practitioners are moving their show to Colorado. But, Colorado attorneys who represent legitimately injured clients in car accidents know that car accident insurance scams continue to be very, very rare in Colorado. Experienced auto accident attorneys know that their honest clients can sustain very real, and sometimes disabling, injuries even in "minor" accidents. Newer model cars do not show the severity of the impact on the car's bumper—but transfer those "minor" collision forces to the occupants. So-called "minor" accidents will not trigger any airbags (they are not designed to deploy at impact speeds typically less than 35 mph), so all the force acts on the occupants of the vehicle to whip them around the car and slam them against the car seat or headrest—which forces often can put someone with marginal bodily health over the edge into disability.
If you are in an accident and can move around your car, take photos with your cell-phone of both cars and the other driver (and car occupants), if possible. If you suspect, even a little, that you might be injured—call the police and report that you may be injured and you are going to see a doctor to get checked out. If the other party in the collision you may have caused (no matter how minor the collision was) is telling you anything about feeling hurt or injured—call the police. Evidence from the scene will assist in the resolution of your auto injury claim and, if you have been scammed by a fake accident, also will provide your insurance company with the evidence to resist a claim that was not your fault.