Legislation inspired by the death of a 71-year-old Queens Village grandmother who was killed in a staged accident in 2003, was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo Thursday.
Assemblyman David Weprin’s bill, known as “Alice’s Law,” makes the staging of an accident to commit insurance fraud a class E felony and in cases where a serious physical or death occurs, a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Alice Ross, a devoted wife and grandmother, was on her way to visit her daughter and grandchildren when her automobile was struck by another vehicle on Commonwealth Boulevard in Bellerose Terrace. Ross lost control of her car which slammed into a tree.
Two Brooklyn men were charged with engineering the crash in an intentional attempt to commit auto insurance fraud by the other driver who planned to file insurance claims and receive a substantial settlement as a result of the crash.
“Alice’s Law is named after a constituent of mine, Alice Ross, who was killed in a staged auto accident in an attempt to exploit New York’s no-fault insurance law,” Weprin said. “The signing of this legislation closes loopholes in the insurance law, adds higher penalties for those who stage auto accidents, and rightfully honors the memory of Alice Ross.”
Waurd Demolaire 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 was released on probation in 2013.
“The perpetrator got off with a very reduced sentence, considering the fact that he murdered my sister,” Ross’ brother Don Peters said after Demolaire’s release. “Now he’s free to walk the streets of New York again.”
Her son, Daniel Ross of Bayside, said, “I don’t want another family to go through what we went through.”
These staged accidents result in fraudulent insurance claims for fake crash injuries costing companies and their policyholders upwards on $1 billion per year. Such activities pose a serious public safety risk, especially for women and elderly drivers who are often targeted for these accidents because they are considered by criminals less likely to be confrontational.
“In New York, we have zero tolerance for insurance fraud, and anyone who puts others in physical danger to further their scheme should be punished accordingly,” Cuomo said. “By signing this legislation into law, we are holding reckless individuals accountable by strengthening penalties for motor vehicle insurance fraud and taking a significant step to make our roads safer for every New Yorker.”
Alice’s Law aims to potentially save New Yorkers billions of dollars in higher insurance premiums and protect innocent victims from harmful injury or death.