How to Handle a Hit and Run Accident
If you're involved in a hit and run accident, the best thing to do is try to obtain as much evidence of the incident as you can. Talk to witnesses who may have seen the accident and get their information. Call the police and make a police report. If they won't come to the scene, have a police report prepared on a subsequent date. It is important to document the fact that this hit-and-run accident occurred. Since it was a hit-and-run accident, you can't go after that party's insurance company. Therefore, your only option will be to pursue your own "uninsured motorist" policy (aka UM Coverage). Of course, that assumes you have UM coverage available.
If you want to pursue your own insurance company's uninsured motorist policy, you will have to prove that something actually happened. Sometimes, your insurance company might be suspicious of your claim if you cannot prove that someone else caused the accident and fled the scene. A hit and run accident is often treated as though it were an uninsured motorist case - even though the other driver may have actually had insurance. After all, you were injured by someone else who for all intents and purposes doesn't have insurance available for your claim. As a result, you will have to pursue your own insurance company's policy.
You want to make sure you gather as much evidence as you can about the hit and run because the insurance companies are trained to be suspicious when comes to hit and run accidents. Believe it or not, there are some people who fake claims against insurance companies in order to collect. You don't want to be lumped in with these people!
Accident can happen anytime. However, head-on collisions are often among the worst. Today, a head-on collision occurred on Sierra Highway in Santa Clarita. The impact has sent two people to Antelope Valley Hospital. From early reports, a white Honda collided with another white sedan of some sort at approximately 1:19 p.m. near Sierra Highway, just north of the Halfway House Cafe.
Officer Christian Cracraft of the California Highway Patrol said major life threatening injuries were sustained in the crash. As of this writing, it wasn’t immediately known if the drivers were the only occupants of the vehicles. Cracraft believed but could not be certain that it was the drivers of each vehicle who were taken to the hospital.
Head-on collisions can occur when one driver tries to go around traffic, mistakenly enters oncoming traffic, loses control of a vehicle, is busy texting, otherwise not paying attention, or drinking and driving among other reasons. I extend my thoughts to the families of all involved. We shall have to wait and see what this investigation reveals.
Popular Personal Injury Scam
There are a lot of crooked people out there. Unfortunately, some of them are staging car accident for illegal profits.
There is an odd truth about automotive accidents, and that odd truth is that not all automotive accidents aren’t really “accidents “all of the time. Some of the time automotive accidents are fabricated productions where drivers can unknowingly and unwillingly be turned into actors in a terrible scene. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation website, staged accidents cost insurance companies around $20 billion dollars a year. With economic times being the way they are, dishonest methods for increasing cash flow are definitely on the rise, as they normally are during uncertain periods. One of the most common staged scenes is the “swoop and squat” accident.
WHAT IS A “SWOOP AND SQUAT”?
In a typical swoop and squat setup, two conspirators drive through the streets looking for a lone driver to take advantage of. Normally the car driven by these conspirators is some old and beat up “junk” vehicle. They normally target city roads, with two lanes traveling in each direction, and minimal potential witnesses nearby. When the conspirators spot someone driving alone, with no eyewitnesses close by, they “swoop” in front of the victims vehicle and the “squat” hitting the brakes so that the victim rear ends their vehicle. Since these scams typically occur on city streets, usually the damage to each car is minimal and no serious injuries are sustained by the victim or the occupants of the perpetrating vehicle. What then happens next is what costs the insured and their insurance company lots of money in the long haul.
The co-conspirators evacuate their vehicle and survey the damage to the rear end. They will typically be optimistic and estimate the damage to not be much, and report that they did not suffer any injury in the accident. So long as the victim does not claim to be injured, the conspirators suggest leaving police and insurance companies out the accident and remedying the situation themselves. They exchange contact information and say they will get an estimate for the cost of repairing their back bumper.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE “SWOOP AND SQUAT”
A few days pass, and rather than an estimate from a body shop, the victim receives a phone call from an attorney representing the perpetrating driver who informs them that the damage sustained is much worse than they originally thought. Furthermore, he reports that both victims are now experiencing back pain consistent with “whiplash” symptoms and that both parties are now under the care of a chiropractor. At this point in time, the victim has no other choice but to involve their insurance company.
Without any eyewitness accounts or a police report, which the conspirators suggested avoiding the victim is facing a hugely challenging situation. Without this crucial evidence, and essentially the leverage to beat the opposition, often times the victim will just assume to pay the cost of the medical care for the other driver and passenger, as well as the compensation for the pain and suffering rather than tying up the case in the legal process. The insurance company will then either raise the victim’s insurance rates for what they consider an “at-fault” accident, or could potentially cancel the policy all together.
This is only one specific manifestation of a “swoop and squat”. These scenarios are not limited to just two cars and kept on city streets. They can often involve up to four cars, and occur in higher risk places such as highways or freeways. The scam networks that operate these scams can be huge, and the most elaborate schemes can involve corrupt attorneys, doctors, tow truck drivers, police officers, ambulance workers, etc. Swoop and squat car accident fraud is by no means a new invention, but has become far more common and prominent within recent years. Additionally, officials are finding huge rings responsible for these scams that are responsible for millions of dollars worth of fraudulent claims every year.
So what does all this mean for you? This means that even if you were truly injured, these people make it harder for you to convince insurance adjusters of your injuries. They have seen a lot of scams. Unfortunately, this crooked few can cause many adjusters to be skeptical…and for good reason.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.