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Bill would add new criminal penalties for staged car accidents

Should it be a crime to stage a car accident for the insurance money? A New York assemblyman thinks so. He and others are working on legislation that could create more penalties for staging accidents in order to defraud insurance firms. The story of a fatal accident in Queens is spurring the legislation.

In 2003, a 71-year-old grandmother was struck by another vehicle in Queens. Her vehicle then slammed into a tree, and the woman died as a result of the accident. The most horrifying part of the car accident: the other driver deliberately hit the woman in an attempt to defraud an auto insurance company.

The assemblyman says that people who have been in a staged car accident may not realize it. Often, staged accidents may be handled as no-fault insurance cases that allow people to collect up to $50,000 an accident.

The assemblyman, who represents Queens, believes that staged accidents are more common in New York because the state lacks a specific law to make staged accidents illegal. His bill would make staging an accident a separate felony.

These deliberate accidents, even fender benders, are dangerous because they put other members of the public in harm's way, as the 2003 fatal accident shows. The new legislation is called Alice's Bill, after the woman who was killed. It recently passed the New York Senate.

Source: CBS New York, "Assemblyman: Time To Crack Down On Staged Car Accidents," March 19, 2013

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