How can car cloning affect me in a car accident?

Car cloning is a relatively new method in which criminals attempt to disguise a vehicle’s true identity. The process begins when criminals copy the vehicle identification number of one vehicle and then use that information to fraudulently obtain legal title and ownership documents for an identical looking vehicle.

According to the Florida Highway and Motor Vehicle department, a common ploy in the car cloning process begins when criminals locate a vehicle sitting in a parking lot or other public place that matches the appearance, make and model of another car of which they seek to gain ownership. Authorities say criminals swipe the VIN information from the legally titled vehicle and then duplicate that information to create forged documents. Once legally titled, a cloned vehicle is difficult for state agencies to identify.

Typically, car cloning is done to sell stolen vehicles and then pass them on to unsuspecting buyers for considerable profit. However, stolen VIN information can also be taken and used to clone vehicles that were extensively damaged in previous car accidents. This can occur at salvage yards or other such wrecking or towing facilities. The dangers posed by these cars to the public is even greater when they are cloned and passed off as safe vehicles to unsuspecting motorists.

If you are a Florida motorist who has been injured in an auto accident involving a cloned car, it is likely you will face certain legal obstacles. For example, the company insuring the motorist responsible for the accident may deny claims based on fraudulent documents during the formation of your insurance agreement. Additionally, a cloned car may have previous structural damage that may have contributed to the accident.

Your auto accident attorney should be able to assist you in assessing the merits of your case and also identifying any potential legal hurdles towards recovering compensation for your injuries.

Source: Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, “Important Consumer Advice about Vehicle Cloning” Oct. 28, 2014