Faking accidents

24 Aug

Much maligned though it is, New Zealand’s Accident Compensation legislation prevents this sort of malarky (from May 1961):

A Faked Car Crash

Grimmest case of accident faking in claims Bureau files happened in Los Angeles. There, one June day, three men cooked up a weird scheme. A Buick was to be hit by a car and knocked over a cliff. One of the three conspirators and his wife were to be found in it: the wife unconscious, and her husband bleeding, with arms, legs, and even fingers broken. They would then sue the driver who hit them for $50,000. But first a driver had to be found who was insured for that amount and who could be bribed to cooperate.

The gang located a Ford owner who agreed to go along. Then he learned the details. The gang was to pay another outsider $1,000  to render the woman unconscious by hypodermic injection. The same outsider was to give the husband dope to relieve his pain while his arms, legs, and fingers were smashed with a bat. Just before the battered man and his wife were carried down the cliff to be put inside the smashed Buick, someone, for final realism, was to punch the husband in the nose to make it bleed.

Horrified, the Ford owner secretly went to the Los Angeles police. They    couldn’t believe his story. He went next to the Los Angeles sheriff’s office, which, in turn, got in touch with the insurance company involved. A Claims Bureau agent was put on the job immediately. The Ford owner was asked to continue to appear to “cooperate” with the plotters. Sheriffs deputies bugged the headquarters of the conspirators and learned that the incredible plot was true.

On the night the “accident” was to take place, the Claims Bureau agent, eight deputies, and two matrons were hidden at the scene of the crime. The fakers arrived in several cars and walked into a dark grove of trees to proceed with the bone-breaking. The woman appeared to be already doped.

By a quirk of fate, a Los Angeles police department prowl car happened by, saw the group, thought they had discovered a dope ring – and unwittingly broke up what would have been the weirdest fake-accident case on record. But the investigators had seen and heard enough. The plotters were tried for conspiracy to defraud. Three went to jail. The Ford driver who had informed on them went free.

What to look out for when you get in an accident

Here are some suggestions from the Claims Bureau and the Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. Watch out, they say, for:

1. Any driver who tries to harass you on the road – front, rear, or side.
2. Any suspicious circumstance in an accident – even a slight one. Call it to the attention of your insurance man immediately.
3. Any questionable repair “deals” that are proposed to you.
4. Any lawyer (or runner) who suddenly shows up at an accident scene, or in a hospital, seeking to handle your business. Such “ambulance chasers” may attempt to involve you in a false or exaggerated claim.
5. Extra damage to your car after an accident. Some unscrupulous tow men have been found to treat cars roughly -in order to make the damage worse – and even to work them over with sledge hammers. Be sure you know what damage your car sustained. Make a note of it at the time of the accident.

And, says Aetna, make a detailed record, or get a friend to do it for you, at an accident scene. The written data will keep your memory straight and may guard you against later trumped-up claims.


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