As if you don’t already have enough to worry about after being involved in a car accident, there are carjackers out there causing accidents simply to create the opportunity to steal your car. According to an article out of New York, this scam is becoming more and more common. Our Joplin car accident attorney wants to warn you about these carjacking scams and provide guidance on what to do and what not to do following a car accident.
Two examples of recent carjacking scams
In Queens, it was reported that a 74-year-old woman was driving her SUV when she was struck by a white sedan as she stopped at an intersection. When she got out of her car to exchange insurance information and check the damage to her vehicle, the male driver of the other vehicle distracted her while his female accomplice started to drive away and the male got into the victim’s vehicle and drove away. Everything was caught on video.
A 73-year-old man in Astoria was trying to park his car when two people drove up to him and falsely accused him of damaging another vehicle. When one of the suspects got out of the car, the victim also got out of his car but left his keys in the ignition. The suspect then got into the victim’s car and drove away.
Staged car accidents to look out for
There are a few commonly recognized strategies that these criminals use to stage car accidents in order to steal the vehicles of unsuspected drivers. For instance, without warning, a car pulls in front of you and slams on their brakes causing you to rear-end them. You may be trying to merge onto the freeway when a driver waves at you to go ahead of them. As you merge into their lane, the other driver deliberately crashes into you. However, much like the rear-end situation, it looks like you caused the crash when merging. The same is true when driving in heavy traffic, you want to change lanes and someone waves you over and then hits you.
Some staged accidents occur at intersections where you proceed into the intersection after stopping at the stop sign and someone T-bone’s you, claiming you ran the stop sign. Another situation that occurs in heavy traffic is when the car in front of you seems to be starting to move forward, but then suddenly stops, causing you to slam into them.
Joplin car accident attorney warns that certain are at higher risk
The reality is that scammers like these will look for the easiest targets. You should be aware that certain types of people will inherently be at a higher risk of being scammed than others. For example, those you drive luxury cars of higher value will be obvious targets. Also, women and seniors are more often chosen as prey because criminals believe they are more easily intimidated. Certainly, driving alone makes you a more likely target as well.
What can you do to protect yourself?
Whenever you are involved in one of the types of accidents described above, and especially if there are two people in the other car, you should be more cautious. If you stop for an accident and you are alone. Stay in your vehicle and let the other driver know you are calling 911. Oftentimes this will deter them from trying to carjack you. If you have to get out of the car, be sure to take your keys with you and even lock the door as you exit. That will make it more difficult for them to drive off with your vehicle. Make note of the other vehicle’s license plate as soon as you can, just in case.
Also, beware of insurance fraud schemes
Sometimes these staged accidents are an attempt at an insurance scam as opposed to a carjacking. Criminals stage accidents to look like they are the other person’s fault so they can make an insurance claim, especially for physical injuries. One common sign that this may be the case is when the collision is rather minor, but the other person is claiming to be in serious pain.
The key here, and even in legitimate accidents, is not to say too much at the scene. Whether it’s admitting liability in some way or saying the accident was not your fault, it is always a bad idea to say anything that relates to liability. The best advice is to say as little as possible until you have spoken to a Joplin car accident attorney.
If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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