How to Spot a Staged Auto Accident

Posted on March 23rd, 2017
By Steven Gursten

Staged auto accidents are when fraudsters submit fake insurance claims for profit. These are becoming more common in the U.S., so it is important you know how to spot a staged auto accident, so you do not fall victim to scammers attempting to cheat you or your insurance company.

If you think someone has already scammed you by staging an auto accident, you should try to remember the details of the incident to see if you can recall any signs of foul play. Then, call a lawyer. To protect yourself from potential future scammers, make sure you can recognize the signs of insurance fraud should you be involved in an accident.

Types of Fraudulent Auto Accidents

Most staged accidents are carefully planned, even rehearsed, in order to adequately fool you and your insurance carrier. Here are common themes or types of staged accidents to look out for:


In a staged T-bone accident, the scam artist waits for your car to enter an intersection and then jams the gas pedal to plow into your vehicle. After “T-boning” your car, the fraudster tells police that you were the one who ran the stop light. Sometimes, the con artist will have staged helpers or witnesses around to lie about the details.


The “wave” staged accident takes place when a scam artist notices you want to switch lanes; then the driver waves to indicate you can proceed with your lane change. Once you do, the fraudster accelerates and causes a collision with your vehicle. This makes it look like the crash was your fault, and of course, the driver denies giving you the courtesy wave.

Sideswipe on a Dual-Turn

Scam artists are prepared for anything. So, if one sees you go even the slightest bit into the neighboring lane as the both of you are legally turning, you might get rammed on purpose and seen as being the one at fault for the accident. Again, there may be fake witnesses to back up the story, especially if the fraudster is driving this dual-turn lane over and over again to catch a victim.

Brake Slam

In this scam, the con artist drives in front of your car and then slams on the brakes, on purpose and for no reason. You may hit that car if you’re not paying attention or if you’re driving too close, causing a planned rear-end collision.

Swoop, Then Stop

This scenario also takes place when a scam artist slams on the brakes while driving in front of you; however, now there is an accomplice to the scheme. There will be a driver in a car next to you that pulls up close, making it impossible for you to swerve out of the way of the braking car.

Fake Injuries

In staged auto accidents, there is risk of injury to the driver, you, and others. No one wants to deal with injuries from crashes that were an accident, but it is especially aggravating if injuries are the result of phony collisions. Often, the scam artist will collaborate with unscrupulous chiropractors or doctors, to exaggerate injuries or even make them up.

If you believe you are part of a fake accident scam, alert your insurance company immediately. Also, search the area for traffic cameras or cameras on neighboring buildings and see if there are any independent witnesses.

Should you fall victim to one of these crooks, you will need help working through the possible lawsuits and claims that follow.

Taos Personal Injury Lawyers have experience with all types of personal injury claims. Fill out the form on this page today for a free consultation. Let the experts’ guide you in what could be a complicated legal investigation.

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