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.