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Lawsuit: 52 South Carolinians Faked Uber Accidents for Personal Injury Claims

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A lawsuit filed by James River Insurance Company alleges that, over the course of nearly two years, a methodical insurance scheme involving dozens of people deliberately causing hit-and-run Uber accidents cost the company over $75,000 in claims.

The federal court lawsuit, filed in August but reported this week by The State, claims that 52 South Carolina residents were involved in deliberately causing 21 collisions in the Columbia area between June 2017 and January 2019. Specifically, the complaint alleges the scheme entailed a process of staging premeditated car crashes that would appear to cause an injury to a passenger.

Several defendants allegedly hailed Uber rides that were eventually rear-ended by another car. The passengers, claiming an injury had occurred, would then proceed to a hospital, and finally file a claim with Uber’s insurer, James River Insurance Company. The suit claims that many of the 52 individuals named in the complaint knew one another. “Many…. are social acquaintances, neighbors, and/or have other personal relationships with their co-defendants,” according to the suit. “Such personal relationships decrease the likelihood that the defendants were all actually involved in real hit-and-run accidents while using an Uber ride share, and increase the likelihood that these alleged ‘accidents’ are actually staged motor vehicle accidents for the purpose of committing insurance fraud,” the lawsuit states.

Additionally, court filings indicate that in one incident, an Uber driver was simultaneously working with two of her passengers and the driver and passengers of another vehicle. The second vehicle allegedly ran a stop sign and crashed into the Uber vehicle, resulting in almost $9,000 in damages.

The lawsuit also identifies a particular instance of an Uber rider being rear-ended on South Carolina’s Augusta Highway by a car that then deserted the scene. The Uber driver allegedly followed the car and eventually collided with it a second time. An unidentified man is reported to have abandoned the car and fled using another vehicle. Said vehicle, according to the suit, was later determined to be owned by the passenger in the Uber vehicle that was initially struck.

The complaint cites another example of a staged accident involved a woman who was was pregnant at the time of a collision on an Interstate 26 on-ramp from Harbison Boulevard. The unidentified pregnant woman’s Uber was rear-ended twice by a car that then fled the scene, the suit says.

According to the New York Times, a spokesman for the Columbia, South Carolina, office of the FBI indicated that the agency is aware of the lawsuit. The FBI did not confirm, however, whether or not they will proceed with an investigation. Presently, none of the defendants have been charged with a crime.

Uber has not yet released a public statement regarding the lawsuit.