Tag Archives: insurance fraud

10 years after deadly staged accident, family wants Alice’s Law passed


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The family of the 71-year-old Queens woman killed 10 years ago in a staged car accident said bureaucratic delays have held up justice — and a proposed law to stiffen penalties in such cases.

“It should have passed,” said Daniel Ross, 56, of Bayside. “I don’t want another family to go through what we went through.”

His mother, Alice Ross, died in 2003 when her car was struck in Bellerose by another vehicle.

According to the district attorney, Waurd Demolaire of Brooklyn intentionally rammed his car into hers to collect insurance money under the state’s No-Fault Law. He was convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy in 2006 and released on probation last October.

“The perpetrator got off with a very reduced sentence, considering the fact that he murdered my sister,” said Alice’s brother, Don Peters. “Now he’s free to walk the streets of New York again.”

Legislation dubbed Alice’s Law has been proposed in the State Senate and Assembly. Both bills would impose tougher criminal penalties on people who engage in staged accidents. But legislators said failure to compromise on two different versions of the law has stalled the ratification process.

The Assembly wants to classify staging accidents to defraud insurance as a class E felony, the lowest felony offense. It carries a prison sentence of one to five years.

A bill passed in the State Senate would make the crime a class D felony and upgrade it to class B if the accident causes serious injury or death to another person. That could mean a prison sentence of five to more than 25 years.

“It’s continually frustrating that there seems to be a philosophical difference between the State Senate and Assembly,” said State Senator Tony Avella, a cosponsor of the Senate bill. “Increasing penalties for any sort of crime, [the Assembly] just won’t do it.”

Assemblymember David Weprin, a sponsor of the bill in the lower house, said he is optimistic that both houses will reach a compromise and get the legislation passed this year.

The legislature has less than one month to resolve differences and get one bill approved in both houses before the session ends June 20.

Last year, the State Senate passed its bill in March and sent it to the Assembly. But according to records, the Assembly’s amended bill reached the Senate on June 19 — too late for action by the upper house.

Alice’s Law was first proposed in 2007 and has been reintroduced every year since 2010.

“It’s been too long in coming,” said Peters, 78, of Saratoga Springs. “The process has been much too slow. I wish it would become law. I think it would be a very appropriate recognition of that anniversary.”

Daniel Ross showed The Courier a copy of a letter from authorities saying the man responsible for his mother’s untimely death was now free.

“That was murder,” he said. “It could have been anybody’s mother.”

 

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Alice’s Law aims to stop accident fraud


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Nine years after a senseless crime, a local official and an activist group are advocating for legislation to finally speak for its victim.

On March 22, 2003, Alice Ross, a 71-year-old wife and grandmother, was killed at 82-51 Commonwealth Boulevard in Jamaica during a falsified auto accident — staged in an attempt by the perpetrators to collect money by filing fraudulent insurance claims.

Assemblymember David Weprin joined leaders of New Yorkers Stand Against Auto Insurance Fraud (NYSAIF) at the site of Ross’ accident on Friday, March 2 to call for the passage of “Alice’s Law,” legislation that hopes to amend punitive repercussions for those involved in staging a motor vehicle accident.

Under “Alice’s Law,” anyone convicted of intentionally creating a collision with the goal of committing insurance fraud or who acts as a third party by assembling a similar accident involving another could face punishment as a class D felony.

According to a representative from Weprin’s office, falsified auto accidents cost insurance companies and their providers nationwide around $1 billion annually.

Alice’s Law was initially proposed in 2007 and reintroduced in 2010, 2011 and 2012. So far, 34 members of the assembly have claimed their support.

Recent personal injury protection (PIP) studies conducted by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) looked at cases in 2010 where plaintiffs claimed losses for medical expenses, lost wages and other injury-related expenses. According to the study, similar injuries from auto accidents in the New York City area have risen by 70 percent over the last 10 years.

The average claim after an auto accident in the New York City metro area is $15,086 – more than twice the amount of the state’s average of $6,870.

Statewide, 23 percent of claims in the study appeared to involve abuse. Claims from the New York City metro area were more than four times as likely to involve apparent abuse.

According to the study, Brooklyn and Queens are hotspots, with more than 52 percent of claims involving alleged abuse.