When times get tough, people are inclined to take drastic measures to make ends meet. It’s a well-known fact that insurance companies often pay big for damages or injuries sustained during automobile accidents.
So, it’s understandable to consider staging a car accident to collect the insurance money. But the consequences may lead you to reconsider moving forward with this desperate attempt to put a few thousand bucks in your pocket.
Most staged car accidents are orchestrated by professional and sophisticated criminals who play the role of the victim for the insurance payout. However, some average people may also consider staging an accident as a last resort.
Can you go to jail for staging a car accident?
In most states, staged car accidents are considered to be a form of auto insurance fraud or assault with a deadly weapon- the car being the weapon. Since both of these are criminal offenses, you could very well be arrested for staging an accident. If a person is killed in a staged accident, you could face additional charges of vehicular manslaughter.
Why do people stage accidents?
Simply put, the primary reason for staging a car accident is for financial benefit. Many sophisticated criminals and mobsters are well-known for repeatedly staging accidents and playing the victim’s role as an A-list actress.
Why? Because it’s easy money. Most of the time, the insurance companies settle out of court, so law enforcement is only involved in taking the initial report.
Ideally, no one would be killed or seriously injured in a staged accident, but there will probably be property damage, and the supposed victim will likely claim minor injuries, such as whiplash.
Sounds easy. Huh? That’s why some average every day, albeit desperate, people have also been known for staging accidents to relieve financial hardship and prevent their homes from being foreclosed.
However, their performances aren’t usually done as eloquently as the professionals, and they often end up behind bars over their little charades.
Sometimes, car accidents are staged for more sinister reasons, such as covering up a murder.
Although some insurance companies do settle relatively quickly, there is usually a thorough investigation conducted to determine the cause of the accident and rule out fraud.
What are the consequences of staging a car accident?
While it’s easier to get away with staging a car accident than, say, robbing a bank, you can be arrested and even face prison time if you’re caught.
For instance, in California, you would be looking at up to five years in prison for auto insurance fraud or four years behind bars if they charge the incident as assault with a deadly weapon.
Although laws vary between states, you will most certainly find yourself in handcuffs for insurance fraud if the investigation uncovers the fact that the accident was indeed staged.
Fraud is still fraud, regardless of whether you are in Florida or Alaska.
Of course, the hope is always for the insurance company to pay out quickly and close the investigation without anyone being hurt.
Sure, the other party involved may face higher insurance premiums for supposedly being at fault in the accident, but you need the money more than they do, right?
Sometimes it actually does work out like that. The reality is that people get away with committing crimes every day, and witness testimony is often unreliable.
However, there are so many things that could potentially go wrong when staging an accident. For all you know, it could turn into a four-car pile-up with multiple fatalities.
Then, you’d be looking at vehicular manslaughter charges and a very long prison sentence.
What are the signs of a staged accident?
There are usually several people involved in a staged accident, including phony witnesses who come forward to insist that the other party was at fault.
Fraud investigators have identified some common characteristics of this scheme. In one tactic, a vehicle with several passengers will suddenly hit its brakes, so the person in the car behind them rear-ends their vehicle. Once the police arrive at the scene, the passengers will suddenly complain of minor injuries.
Some scammers are even bolder and may purposely T-bone another vehicle as they pass through a traffic stop. Once again, there will be phony witnesses who insist that the other party ran a red light.
Staged car accidents have become familiar enough that law enforcement has started to recognize the signs of a staged accident and see right through the facade.
While you could very well get lucky and get away with staging an accident, the chances of that happening are increasingly slim.
If the police have figured out the tactics of sophisticated criminals, a regular old Joe in a tight spot won’t be able to pull the wool over their eyes.