No Current State Law Forbids Deliberate Car 'Accidents,' Assemblyman Weprin Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York State Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens) said Sunday that it is time for a crackdown on the practice of staging auto accidents to defraud insurance companies.

Weprin was joined Sunday by the group New Yorkers Stand Against Insurance Fraud to call for a bill to crack down on staged auto accidents. He noted that Alice Ross, a 71-year-old grandmother, was a victim of a deliberate “accident” in the most horrific way.

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In 2003, Ross’ car was struck deliberately by another vehicle in Queens. She slammed into a tree and was killed.

As it is, Weprin said, there is no specific state law to prohibit staging accidents.

“All the bill does is create a separate felony under New York State law for staging an automobile accident,” Weprin said. “It’s kind of hard to believe that the actual act of staging a phony automobile accident – which of course, is done for insurance fraud purposes – is not a crime in New York State.”

A standalone law would make it easier for prosecutors, he said.

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“We’d make it a Class B felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in jail, but would make it easier for prosecutors to prosecute these individuals for staging these accidents,” Weprin said.

Given the lack of any law to deal with it, staged accidents happen frequently, Weprin said.

“I think it would be a deterrent – individuals that right now would actually not be charged with a crime under New York State law for just staging an accident, and unfortunately, what happens is many times, people are in car accidents all the time, and they have no idea it was a staged automobile accident, and is causes just a fender bender. It’s often done under the no-fault insurance law in which individuals can collect up to $50,000 per accident,” he said.

The legislation, called “Alice’s Bill,” passed the state Senate last week. Slightly different versions of the bill passed both houses of the state Legislature last year, but Weprin said he is working on consensus language before the bill goes before Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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