After you get into a minor car accident, you may exchange information with the other driver and observe neither of you have any injuries. Maybe your foot slipped off the brake or you simply thought you had more time to slow down. Causing a car accident can be nerve-wracking enough, but realizing that you’re both alright causes you to exhale a sigh of relief.
However, a few days or weeks later, you get a notice that the other driver is claiming injuries. You know you were careful and the other driver did not have any injuries right after the accident. But now, you may be on the hook for their medical expenses.
If you are facing a false car accident claim against you, you may need experienced legal guidance and advocacy. At Pacific West Injury Law, we can help you protect your rights and your finances.
How Insurance Companies Handle a Car Accident Claim Filed Against You
To start, we need to briefly discuss what your insurance company will do if a claim is filed against you for a car accident. Most likely, your insurance company will speak with the other driver, then speak with you. They do this to compile as much information as possible about the accident.
If the other driver is alleging relatively minor injuries, your insurance company may simply approve the claim. They do this because it’s cheaper for them to pay out relatively small claims than to fight them. What makes matters worse is that you bear the financial burden of this through increased premiums.
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Types of Fraud and How to Prove It
Now let’s look at false car accident claims and the type of fraud they might be. To be clear, not every car accident claim is made fraudulently. But sometimes, people may try to take advantage of the situation, putting you in a tough spot.
Hard fraud is the less common type of car accident insurance fraud. This type of fraud occurs when an accident itself is fraudulent. For example, a car may cut in front of you, hit the brakes, causing you to slam into the back of them.
This accident might be your fault and the injuries suffered by people in the car in front of you might be real. But they may have intended for that to happen in an effort to collect money from your insurance company.
This type of scam can be successful because most rear-end car accidents are automatically considered to be the fault of the rear driver. Unless you can prove the other driver stopped suddenly and on purpose, you might be considered at fault for this accident and liable for any injuries.
Soft fraud, on the other hand, is more common than hard fraud. This is similar to the situation described above where you notice the other driver is fine at the accident scene, but they later claim some injuries, usually soft tissue.
In this instance, a person might have a valid claim against you for property damage caused to their car during the accident. But, by later claiming injuries have appeared, they are trying to milk your insurance company and get a larger settlement. Ultimately, if your insurance company settles the claim, that could mean higher premiums for you.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
Not every car accident involves hard or soft fraud. But you should still be on alert for potential scams and that’s why it’s good to follow these steps to make sure you protect yourself against potential false car accident claims.
Take Pictures and Video of the Scene
Especially if no one has been injured, take pictures and video of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and the other driver. It would be good to get the other driver on video walking around the accident scene. This could help show that they did not have any immediate injuries.
If someone is injured, obviously call 911 right away so they can get emergency medical help. But calling 911 will also send the police to your accident scene, where they will speak with both drivers and any witnesses to create a police accident report, where they may or may not assign fault. Even if the police assign fault in the accident to you, that’s not necessarily the final word, as a police accident report can be beneficial, but it is not legally binding.
Alert Your Insurance Company
Whenever you’re involved in a car accident, you need to alert your insurance company. They will want to conduct an investigation and take your statement, along with the other driver’s statement. However, it would be wise to speak with a lawyer before giving a statement to your insurance company because they are not always looking out for your best interests.
Your Insurance Company Is Not Your Friend
If your insurance company has conducted their investigation and they find you at fault for the accident, they may negotiate and settle with the other driver, even if you know they did not get injured in the accident. In most cases, if the other driver is looking for compensation that is less than your full coverage amount, your insurance company will probably just pay it. That’s because it’s much cheaper for your insurance company to pay out a claim covered by your insurance than it is for them to fight on your behalf.
This means you will end up shouldering the financial burden because your insurance company will increase your rates. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do to stop your insurance company from settling.
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Get the Bear on Your Side Today
Partner with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. Your lawyer can review your claim and look at the evidence you have collected to show the other driver is attempting fraud. Then your lawyer can protect your rights by battling with your insurance company to prevent them from paying out a fraudulent claim.
Your insurance company will act fast, so you need to do the same. Contact Pacific West Injury Law today to find out how we can help you protect your rights and your finances.