Auto Accident Settlement
How Can I Ensure That I Won’t Get Scammed After a Car Accident?
A car accident can understandably put someone in a bad headspace, which can cause them to misplace their trust in an individual who is actually out to take advantage of them.
Insurance fraud “cons”, for example, are among the most common forms of post-car-accident scam. According to the FBI, insurance fraud activities tally up to a total cost of over $40 billion per year. There are also other types of scams that could come about, including identity theft, theft of your policy number, extortion, and more.
Fortunately, there are a few actions you can take to protect yourself from the risk of fraud. One of them is to contact a Florida car accident lawyer with a solid reputation who can help you navigate the process and avoid common pitfalls. Scam victims are often at a disadvantage because of their inexperience, but a seasoned attorney can spot suspicious actors or advise against risk actions. They can also help you conclusively determine fault, helping you obtain compensation for any resulting injuries.
If you have recently been in a car accident or want to prepare for a hypothetical one in the future, here are a few strategies you can use to reduce your risk of getting scammed.
Always Report the Accident to Police
One of the biggest angles a scammer will use is to discourage you from reporting an accident to the police. They may claim they have unpaid tickets or an outstanding warrant based on a misunderstanding. They may also say that police can’t be trusted when you are both by the side of a road in a vulnerable position.
The fact is that if you don’t report the accident, you lose many legal protections that come with having an actual accident report. In most accident scenarios on public roads, a police officer will come to document the scene of the accident itself. They will take statements and put them all on an official record. This record may contain conflicting reports — especially when a scammer is involved — but it still provides a legally valid document that most courts will implicitly trust.
It is in your best interests to always report an accident, no matter what another party says. Wait for the police to arrive, and if you feel unsafe make sure to tell 911 when you report the accident.
Keep a Clear Head
Scammers will play upon various emotions to manipulate you into taking actions you might otherwise avoid. Anger, guilt, pity, and panic are just a few of the emotions they may try to elicit.
It can be difficult to maintain a clear head in the aftermath of an accident but think of it as a job duty. You have a personal duty to report the accident, seek medical attention, investigate the cause of the collision, and pursue any damages inflicted upon you or your vehicle. Let your need to accomplish these goals motivate you, and try to push aside any extreme feelings until you are in a safe place among people you can trust.
Don’t Take the Accident at Face Value
Many times, scam victims feel embarrassed or guilty because they evidently caused a crash they normally would have avoided. In truth, what you’re seeing and hearing after an accident may have more to it than meets the eye. For example, a scammer may allege that they are extremely hurt in the aftermath of an accident, but the injuries could be superficial and self-caused. Think of it as pro wrestling: you are being shown a performance that is intended to have a specific effect, but the reality of what’s happening could be vastly different.
To reduce the risk of being scammed, always consider hiring an attorney and/or a private investigator. This is especially important if you have your own injuries that Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance may not cover. Fault is rarely clear in the moments after a crash occurs, so taking the time to gather evidence and consider the incident further can reduce the risk of drawing false conclusions.
Be Wary of Anyone Approaching You to Offer Professional Help
You can almost always trust anyone trying to provide medical assistance after an accident, but be wary of other professional service providers who just so happen to be in the area at the time of a crash.
Tow trucks (or “wreckers”) may have been conveniently located nearby, ready to haul your car away — for substantially inflated fees. People posing as attorneys, insurers, or other professionals may be out to obtain your insurance policy number and other sensitive personal information. You may also be approached by individuals claiming to recommend the perfect attorney, insurance rep, auto repair shop, or another sort of professional business, only for the victim to have thousands stolen from them by fees or outright theft.
It’s always a good idea to speak to an attorney and your own insurer after the accident but do so on your own terms. Take any “convenient” recommendations with a grain of salt, and do your homework by looking up reviews and other information before putting yourself at the mercy of a services provider.
Know Your Actual Policy Provider
Many individuals who sell insurance are actually brokers. This means that you have an intermediary in between you and the business that is supposed to pay for your claim. Some brokers will, regrettably, steal your premiums or use a scheme to extract their value until there’s nothing left for policy coverage. A broker may also be acting as a front for a company that doesn’t actually provide insurance, and a fine print in your contract could say so.
Naturally, law enforcement frowns upon these deceptive schemes. If you suspect your insurance representative or company is defrauding you, contact the Florida Bureau of Insurance Fraud to report your case.
Work With a Florida Car Accident Attorney Who Can Represent and Advise You
An experienced attorney is able to spot red flags for common scams or forms of extortion. Whether you are facing a practiced con artist trying to pull off a “squat and swoop” or an insurer who refuses to actually provide the coverage you were promised, your lawyer can apply their legal experience and analysis to come to your aid. Most importantly, they can help you explore your own options for pursuing needed compensation in the event you are injured in a crash.
Call Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd to receive a free, no-risk consultation regarding your crash. We have decades of experience assisting Floridians on the Treasure Coast after their injury-causing accident. Call (866) 460-1990 or contact us online to schedule your no-cost appointment today.
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