By Nick Hillesheim, TVC Pro-Driver Chief Sales Officer
At TVC Pro-Driver, we’ve seen it all — including instances where our members have been targets of staged accidents.
How exactly can an accident be staged? A car might intentionally stop short in traffic or sideswipe a truck, claiming the driver crossed the lane line. Often, a planted “witness” is involved to corroborate the scammers’ story.
This unfortunate trend got major attention in 2019 when five people in the New Orleans area were federally indicted on six counts of fraud for staging a phony crash with a semi-truck. Whereas truckers had historically been considered guilty until proven innocent — Louisiana Motor Transport Association Executive Director Chance McNeely said this was certainly the case in his state — the high-profile legal battle finally shed light on who the real victims are: hard-working truckers and the companies they work for.
Large fleets are often targets of these schemes because they are perceived to have deep pockets to pay off damages. But fortunately, there are ways fleet executives can fight back to protect their drivers.
- Keep Records of Everything.
Invest in installing cameras in each of your trucks, so there’s never a question as to what happened in an accident. Coach your drivers on jotting down important details like what type of vehicle hit them, how many people were in the vehicle and who was driving. Drivers should also look for surrounding surveillance cameras (like at a convenience store, for example) that might have captured additional footage.
- Stand Your Ground.
Don’t just go for the quick settlement. Staged accidents often involve three or more people in the other car and are minor, such as a sideswipe or a fender-bender that occurs during a turn. It’s also not unusual for claimants to outright lie and say there was an impact when there really wasn’t. If there are any red flags, then spend the money to investigate. Multiple claims arising out of one staged accident can negatively impact your fleet’s insurance renewal premiums and cost you much more money in the long run.
- Share Your Concerns.
Contact your insurer immediately if you suspect one of your drivers has been targeted by “crash for cash” criminals. They will be just as eager as you to take action. You should also contact the insurance fraud bureau in the state where the accident (or alleged accident) occurred. Make it clear from the outset that you believe something fishy is going on.
Should your fleet find itself entangled in truck crash fraud, you can also reach out to us at TVC Pro-Driver. Our experienced network of attorneys will help fight your case in the court of original jurisdiction and ensure a scam doesn’t adversely affect your CSA score. To learn more, email me at Sales@prodriver.com.