While the authorities have instigated a serious clampdown upon fraudulent personal injury claims they are still a big problem. There are certain types of claims, such as whiplash, which are often difficult to dispute and tend to be settled out of court to save costs.
In many ways the hardest hit victims of fraudulent personal injury claims are those who are over trusting of other people. So, how can you avoid being the victim of a fraudulent road accident personal injury claim?
Advice From The Professionals
The City of London Police is just one of many forces up and down the UK who have offered excellent advice over the years on all kinds of fraud, but for now we will take a look at perhaps the main area of fraudulent personal injury claims, road accidents.
There are some fairly simple actions you can take to protect yourself as much as possible from what are commonly known as “crash for cash” scams. Unfortunately, where fraudulent and dishonest people are at work it is not possible to totally protect yourself but it could make all the difference by just being aware of your surroundings, and keeping the below advice in mind.
Keep Your Distance From The Vehicle In Front
It may sound very straightforward but you would be surprised at how many people tailgate the vehicle in front and then wonder why they are on the wrong end of a fraudulent personal injury claim.
We all know it is extremely difficult to fight your case where you have rear-ended the car in front even if they have braked heavily and in effect caused the accident. So, be aware of the stopping distance (taking into account the weather conditions) and at the very minimum you should be able to see the tarmac below the tyres of the vehicle in front. The key words here are caution and common sense.
One very common problem for motorists today is the issue of tailgaters who are far too close to your car. Unfortunately there are many people who drive in this fashion as “normal” so in some ways it can be difficult to spot the fraudsters.
One very common practice which the police have seen time and time again is where two cars work in tandem. One car will tailgate you from the back with the aim of distracting you while the car in front will break suddenly when perhaps your attention is more focused on the car behind. Hey presto, you go crashing into the car in front, the tailgater will disappear and you will be left with a potentially hefty personal injury claim.
If you feel uncomfortable about a tailgater there is absolutely nothing wrong in pulling off at the next junction and parking up in a safe public area (ensure there is sufficient lighting if driving at night time). This will allow you to gather your thoughts, regain your composure and then continue on your journey. The fraudsters are unlikely to go out of their way to chase you and will no doubt look for another potential victim.
Spotting Malfunctioning Brake Lights
The fraudsters have become ever more inventive in the ways in which they try to instigate accidents and one very simple strategy is to disconnect the rear brake lights.
We all take for granted that if the car in front of us is slowing down their brake lights will show and we can react accordingly. It is a lot more difficult to judge the situation if the brake lights in front are not working and many people simply end up crashing into the back of the vehicle. This is perhaps one of the more difficult fraudulent strategies to combat but the official advice is to give the vehicle in front even more space if the lights appear to be defective and not working when slowing down. There is a common watchword emerging amongst these advisory notes, caution.
Built Up Areas And Stop Start Situations
Sometimes in rush hour traffic it can be extremely difficult to avoid normal accidents with cars coming from all angles at different speeds. As a consequence areas such as roundabouts and so-called “stop start situations” should prompt a high degree of caution amongst drivers. If you’re in congestion keep your distance from the vehicle in front. A fraudster will intentionally let you get close behind when the traffic is stopping and starting and at the opportune moment will stop suddenly when you’re not expecting it and you rear-end them.
Where there are two or more lanes there have been many instances of vehicles in the slow lane speeding up to leave a gap for a driver in the middle lane. Once the driver pulls over, the vehicle in the slow lane breaks suddenly causing an accident and, as we know, it is extremely difficult to defend an accident where you have gone into the back of another vehicle. Where there are junctions, roundabouts or other extremely busy areas of road ensure you have enough space and be extra careful and vigilant.
Commercial Vehicle Owners
While the fraudsters are not at all bothered about the consequences of their activities they do tend to target particular groups where they know they have a better than average chance of a successful claim. One such area is commercial vehicle owners because they know that the vehicle is more than likely to be fully insured. This is pound signs to the fraudsters as they are also fully aware that commercial vehicle owners are unlikely to contest a claim as insurance goes down as a “business cost”. In reality any increased cost to a commercial business reduces overall profitability so while this may seem like a victimless crime this is certainly not the case.
The police have made commercial vehicle owners aware of a particular scam involving two vehicles. Vehicle number one will be driving in front of the commercial vehicle and a second car will swerve intentionally towards this vehicle. Vehicle number one is then “forced” to break suddenly forcing the unsuspecting driver behind to crash into the back of the car. Within just a few moments we are presented with yet another fraudulent personal injury claim.
When Suspicious Of An Accident
While modern day fraudsters are extremely inventive in the way in which they instigate accidents they are also very astute at taking advantage of situations. The vast majority of us will be extremely apologetic if we have driven into the back of a vehicle and potentially caused injury to a third party. Human nature often sees us put the welfare of others before our own and the majority of us would not even consider an accident had been staged. However, if you are ever involved in an accident where you run into the back of another vehicle the police advice is “not to panic”.
You should take as many details as possible, including those who have witnessed the accident, and also take photographs of your vehicle, the accident location and the third party vehicle. Unfortunately many fraudsters will cause more damage to their vehicle once you have left the scene which can increase their compensation claim. Let the police know you are concerned about the validity of the accident, inform your insurance company of our concerns and ensure that you hand over as many details as possible.
While sometimes difficult to prosecute the fraudsters, fraudulent personal injury claims are noted and any trends and similarities can bring a very intense police spotlight onto individual accidents. So, while one incident in isolation may seem irrelevant, if the police can spot a trend (perhaps individuals involved in an above average number of accidents) this could save you from a significant payout and take a fraudster off the streets.