Protect against staged crashes and nuclear verdicts

Protect against staged crashes and nuclear verdicts with Zonar Systems
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Refute false claims with irrefutable, data-based evidence.

Staged accidents and false insurance claims against commercial trucks is big business. A 2020 ARTI study shows that the size of nuclear verdicts against carriers has risen. For example, a double-fatality accident in 2011 resulted in a $40 million settlement, while a single-fatality accident in 2012 resulted in a $281 million settlement (later reduced to $105 million).

Not every commercial truck accident is staged. But the rising payout amounts have drawn the attention of crime rings, who coordinate fraudulent crashes and file false claims to bilk your insurance company for as much money as possible. And one nuclear verdict can close a carrier’s doors.

As freight carriers, law enforcement officials and insurance investigators become savvier at detecting fraud, scammers become savvier at committing it. Let’s look at some of their more common methods—and how you can use smart fleet technology to dispute false insurance claims by building a case based on data and objective evidence.

Scammers research carriers and locations.

Staging a commercial truck crash is risky; physically and legally. To make the payday worth it, scammers research specific carriers and locations to minimize their risk and maximize their potential payout.

What they look for

  • Fleets with high insurance policies
  • Carriers who are more willing to settle than others
  • States with high policy limits
  • Areas with liberal, plaintiff-oriented juries

Then they coordinate the staged crash.

Fraudulent truck crashes are not spur-of-the-moment crimes of opportunity. Multiple individuals carefully coordinate, script and rehearse each accident ahead of time. They even have a library of tried-and-true crash tactics, which truck drivers may or may not recognize at the time of the collision.

  • Rear-end collision Car A cuts off the truck and slams on the brakes. The truck driver can’t stop or avoid the collision in time, so it rear-ends Car A.
  • Swoop and squat Car A pulls in front of the truck and slows down. Car B darts in front of Car A and stops, forcing Car A to slam its brakes so the truck driver rear-ends it. Sometimes, there’s a Car C that blocks the truck driver from changing lanes to avoid the collision.
  • Sideswipes Car A sideswipes the truck and blames the driver. Or claims the truck driver sideswiped them (when no contact was made) and sues, despite the complete lack of damage. Remember, scammers know which carriers are more likely to settle out of court.

After the accident, scammers pile more blame on the truck driver to pad their false claim.

  • Providing false statements and exaggerating injuries
  • Claiming more passengers than they actually had
  • Paying others to pretend to be passengers and witnesses
  • Colluding with doctors, attorneys and even insurance companies

Exonerate your driver and protect your fleet with smart fleet technology.

Without the right smart fleet management technology, your driver’s word is up against the scammers’ accusations. However, three particular solutions provide objective, data-based evidence that shows what happened—and who was at fault.

See what really happened using clear video footage.

Basic dashcams may seem like an easy solution, but they may not capture the staged crash in quality detail. An advanced in-cab driver safety solution will capture high-definition footage inside and outside the cab, day and night. And make that video easily—yet securely—available on-demand, online.

What to look for in a solution Why you need it
Dual-facing dashcam with an HD lens Captures clear footage of the staged crash
Analyzes the road ahead and in-cab driver behavior Shows scammers in action and your driver’s response
Infrared inward-facing camera to capture footage day and night Shows driver behavior, even if the interior is dark
Online, on-demand access to accident footage Enables easy viewing of footage when you need, from any location
Picture-in-picture viewing of in-cab and road-facing footage Provides real-world context for your driver’s response to the accident

Visualize the staged crash with telematics data.

Scammers lie; data doesn’t. Use your vehicle’s telematics data in tandem with the driver safety solution’s footage to contradict fraudulent accusations.

Scammers’ hypothetical accusation What you could prove with data and footage
Your driver was speeding. Your driver was obeying posted limits.
Your driver sideswiped the scammer’s car. The truck was parked, and the engine was turned off at the time of the alleged incident.
Your driver hit the scammer’s car and left. The truck was at a different location than what the scammer indicates.
Your driver accelerated too rapidly or braked too hard. Your driver was trying to avoid the accident, either by slowing down or trying to evade the scammer’s vehicles.

Have your driver electronically capture damage at the scene.

Your driver is instrumental in collecting evidence right after the collision. Make sure they know to document the number of people in the scammer’s car, and to collect each person’s contact information. If your fleet uses an electronic verified inspection reporting system, your driver can methodically, digitally document the damage to the truck and make those findings immediately available online.

An electronic inspection reporting system helps drivers document the real damage.
  1. Use the post-accident inspection configuration to inspect each zone, and identify and photograph damage.
  2. Photograph the damage on the scammer’s vehicle to limit their ability to exaggerate their claim.
  3. Include photos of the license plate numbers on both ends of the scammer’s vehicle to ensure accurate identification.
  4. Upload all findings from the scene to your smart fleet management’s secure web portal.

An electronic verified inspection reporting system is a more thorough, methodical way to accurately capture post-accident damage than other inspection systems. Helps the driver more accurately and easily document the real damage when emotions are likely running high.

Work with a smart fleet management provider that lives and breathes safety and compliance.

According to the ATRI, “From 2010 to 2018, the size of verdict awards grew 51.7 percent annually at the same time that standard inflation grew 1.7 percent and healthcare costs grew 2.9 percent.” Some carriers reduce their insurance coverage to reduce their rising rates, which leaves them more financially exposed should a staged accident occur.

The American Trucking Association’s (ATA) Law Enforcement Advisory Board (LEAB) has made raising awareness about regulations for staged accidents a top priority. LEAB is calling for training to help law enforcement understand what the trucking industry goes through every day with this type of fraud—and what’s happening with city, state and national legislation to address the issue.

Still, the right smart fleet management technology gives you and your drivers greater protection against staged truck accidents and false claims. See how well your fleet is prepared and which solutions would best help protect your operation from a nuclear verdict. Schedule your complimentary consultation with our dedicated, in-house Safety and Compliance team. They understand the industry, regulations and challenges, and are ready to help you protect your fleet. Our vice president of Safety and Compliance, Fred Fakkema, is also vice chair and an Advisory Board member for LEAB.

Plus, even if your trucks haven’t been targeted yet, you’re still paying the price for other carriers’ nuclear verdicts through your rising insurance rates. Read our complimentary white paper, Lower your insurance rates and CSA scores for more on how telematics technology can help.