By: Karin Murphy Caro
Being in a car accident is scary even if no one was injured. If there is a driver, passenger, or pedestrian injured; or there was significant damage to any vehicles involved, chances are that an officer will be at the scene. Police are required to conduct an investigation of the accident and report the results. This police report is important for insurance claims or if it's necessary to have a lawsuit.
If an insurance company gets involved after the accident and a claim has been made by any party involved, they will review the report. It may be important for you to have an attorney represent you. You and/or your attorney are entitled to obtain a copy of the police report by contacting the law enforcement agency that came to the scene. If there are any inaccuracies, you need to tell your attorney immediately and they will try to get the report changed or amended. Stanley Sanders of The Sanders Firm states, "our firm will send our own investigator to determine the facts of the accident. That investigator will also obtain the police report and will handle the changes if needed."
In the report, it is necessary to know what facts need to be stated. If they are not, the investigator that is hired by the insurance company or the law firm will review and determine all the facts. The necessary information is as follows:
If you're needing an experienced lawyer to discuss your accident, Sanders is available at 516.741. 5252.
By: Karin Murphy Caro
What is stalking?
According to the Department Of Justice:
Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.
Stalking can include:
Many people use the term "stalking" very loosely in this age of digital accessibility. Many even joke about the term stating, "I Facebook stalked him." or "I was stalking your social media and I saw that you had just taken a trip and I was wondering how it was…"
Those are innocent enough but the truth is that stalkers can make your life a living hell and stalking is scary, it’s dangerous and in many cases, illegal.
Here Are Some Startling Statistics About Stalkers in the U.S.
The act of stalking is often the culmination of several acts which, when taken on their own, are perfectly legal. When the acts are put together to bully, harass or intimidate someone, then it rises to the level of stalking. When another person's actions instill a sense of fear in the recipient, then it becomes stalking. Statistically, most stalking cases involve a man stalking a woman and a majority of these cases, involve a woman being stalked by an abusive husband or boyfriend whom she is trying to escape (80%). In other cases, it can be a casual acquaintance, a co-worker or a former co-worker. However, in rare cases, the stalker is completely unknown to the victim.
In NY, it is usually easy to get an Order Of Protection against a stalker but beware, a malicious stalker can manipulate the law and the police to use it against his/her victim. There is a Mandatory Arrest Law, a Domestic Violence Statute that requires police to arrest an alleged batterer regardless of evidence. Mandatory arrests are common in some regions but not used in others, partially due to considerable controversy over the validity of the law. While proponents say that mandatory arrest can save lives and may be more effective than other domestic violence tactics, many people suggest that it may reduce the likelihood that abused victims will call the police OR it can be used to hurt the actual victim by disregarding the rights of the accused and failure to produce evidence or probable cause for arrest. Think about it, if a stalker wants to intimidate, bully, stalk or threaten, what better way but to use the law and the police force to do so?
The majority of stalkers cease their stalking when confronted by police about their actions. If the behavior persists, then it becomes a criminal matter. Most stalking incidents are punished as misdemeanors and carry a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail. The charge can be enhanced to a felony if the stalker threatened the victim with a firearm, has a previous stalking conviction, violated a protective order or directed his conduct toward a child. The sentence for felony stalking varies, but it can be as long as 10 years in a state prison. Again, I emphasize a stalker using this law to hurt the victim. The police need to be diligent in these cases and they need to have more ability to investigate.
If you are being stalked, the best thing you can do to help yourself is to document everything. Log all phone calls and save messages on an answering machine and keep all letters, threats and gifts. Let your friends, family members and co-workers know so they can also report to police if they see your stalker or if they have been approached by someone the stalker knows. These actions will help keep you safe and build a criminal case against the stalker.
In NYS, call this hotline for Domestic Violence help: 1-800-942-6906
By: Karin Murphy Caro
No one wants to be in a car collision. Well...almost no one. There are drivers that will intentionally cause an accident with an intent on receiving the insurance money for the damages as well as the medical expenses and/or law suit.
An innocent driver can be left with the ramifications of a staged accident including a blemished record and the legal hassles associated with the accident. There are repairs, legalities, claims, police officers, investigators, lawyers and the insurance companies to deal with and for some, physical injuries.
Sometimes, a staged accident can be delivered in such way that makes an innocent party appear to be at fault. Even a small dent can add up to a fraudulent claim against an insurance company. The scammer can make a fraudulent claim against the insurance company spiking insurance premiums while embellishing injuries and even their passengers can make a claim to collect money.
Avoiding Staged Accident Scams
Although it’s nearly impossible to avoid many staged collisions, victims can try to protect themselves. Drivers with cameras, or cell phones that function as such, should take as many photographs as possible, document as much of the event as possible. Keep a clear and concise record of the vehicles, the damage, the other driver’s license plate, and even the other driver and any passengers. The innocent driver should also take copious notes, transcribing important information about the other driver, such as the driver's:
Punishment for Fraud
Perpetrators of staged car collisions and related insurance schemes are usually prosecuted under fraud statutes. Depending in part on the scope of the enterprise, the crime will be prosecuted as a state crime and brought by the county district attorney’s office; or prosecuted as a federal offense, handled by the United States government.
State laws proscribe fraud in general and specifically prohibit people from presenting false insurance claims. These crimes may be treated either as misdemeanors or felonies and can carry both imprisonment and stiff financial penalties.
The federal government may prosecute phony auto accident schemes under a variety of laws, notably the mail and wire fraud statutes. For example, in 2012 a leader of a prominent accident staging ring in Florida was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to repay $4.4 million in illegal profits. The scheme involved staged accidents and spurious chiropractic claims. Other members of the operation also received prison sentences and hefty restitution orders.
Joseph Yannone, Licensed Private Investigator who has been investigating staged accidents for over 20 years, states: "Staged accidents will increase your auto-insurance premium because of the large sums of money paid out for fraudulent treatment(s). If you think you have been a victim of a staged accident, notify your insurance company promptly. Fraudulent medical treatments as a result of these fraudulent accidents produce billions of dollars a year in costs to the insurance carriers nationwide."
Innocent drivers should never settle with cash. They should report all details of the accident to the police and their insurance company. If they suspect fraud, they might consider contacting the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Karin Murphy is an investigative reporter. Through her own experiences she took an interest in undercover & investigative work.