Yes, criminals fake car accidents. But it’s not the rough-looking types. Doctors and lawyers are in on it too. Learn what to do and how to protect yourself.

Car accident fraud? Really? Sounds amazing at first. But it happens. Los Angeles is the nation’s capital of car accident fraud.

And it’s not criminal lowlifes who do this. Instead, doctors diagnose fake injuries, lawyers file fake claims, fake witnesses support the story, and “victims” fake the crash.

Is this really a big problem?

You bet it is. Los Angeles had 7,700 fraudulent accidents in 2012.

In fact, Los Angeles recently got a $6.9 million grant to end this.

Here’s how it usually works: You’re targeted. One car quickly cuts in front of you. Another car cuts in front of that car. So now there’s two cars in front of you. The car at the front slams its breaks, and you slam into the car in front of you. It’s called the “swoop and squat” tactic.

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

First, you want to prevent any such car accident from happening in the first place. So watch for cars coming around your left or right and trying to cut in front of you.

Here’s how to protect yourself from other tactics:

  1. The Drive Down

In this case, you’re trying to merge into another lane. The other driver slows down and waves you in. Then they hit you and blame the accident on you. They may do the same with a parking space.

If someone’s politely waving you in, turn them down, just to be safe.

  1. The Sideswipe

In this case, you’re in the inner lane of a dual left-turn lane. If you drift into the outer lane, a crook rams into you.

Simply stay in your lane to avoid this one.

  1. Shady Helpers

You get in a car wreck. A stranger puts heavy pressure on you to get medical treatment from a specific clinic, repairs from a specific mechanic, or to use the services of a specific lawyer.

They may approach you in person, or even call you.

The simple remedy: find your own help. You don’t know the credibility of the person trying to “help” you (helping themselves is more like the truth).

Document Everything You Can Remember about the Accident

Immediately record a statement of how the accident happened on your smartphone. The closer to the accident you record, the more details you’ll remember.

If you don’t think there was any reason for them to stop in front of you, note that. Get recorded statements from all witnesses at the scene who support your side of the case. Make sure you have their names, phone numbers, and addresses.

Watch how many people get out of the other car. Criminals sometimes forget how many people were in their car.

If you suspect fraud, mention it to the police officer and contact the Texas Department of Insurance at 800-578-4677.

Call your own Dallas personal injury lawyer for a free consultation if you were injured.

It’s a tough world out there. But you’ll be fine if you take these actions.