Insurance coverage protection all the time goes into impact at 12:01 a.m. on the date it’s issued. Chad Roland LeVasseur had a one automobile accident, known as his insurer and altered his limits, after which, an hour later, reported a loss to the police and the insurer with the assistance of a girl good friend who he requested to misinform the police about when the accident occurred. He appealed his conviction on one depend of second-degree-felony insurance coverage fraud after proof was introduced to a jury that he modified his insurance coverage protection after an accident to extend limits after which reported that the declare occurred after the coverage was modified.
In State Of Utah v. Chad Roland Levasseur, 2020 UT App 118, No. 20190299-CA, Utah Courtroom Of Appeals (August 13, 2020) the Utah Courtroom of Appeals thought-about his enchantment with their judicial tongue planted firmly in cheek.
On the evening of March 27, 2016, LeVasseur and his finest good friend on the time (Pal) had been “driving round, simply hanging out” in Provo, Utah. After they separated, Pal went residence, however obtained a telephone name from LeVasseur “round midnight-ish” as she pulled into her driveway. In that telephone name, LeVasseur associated that “he had been in an accident,” and Pal “supplied to go assist him.” As a result of she “didn’t know precisely learn how to get” to LeVasseur’s location, she known as him for added instructions as she was en route.
When Pal arrived on the scene, LeVasseur’s automobile was “parked by the curb in items sort of,” with “influence harm to the left entrance.” LeVasseur was the one individual there. After Pal helped LeVasseur “choose every part up” off the facet of the street, LeVasseur, performing “[a] little stressed” and “somewhat frightened,” advised her that the accident occurred as he “was making a drift video and he misplaced management,” inflicting him to hit a concrete barrier. LeVasseur confirmed Pal the video, which depicted him “going up the street, turning,” when the digicam “fell onto the ground.” Whereas the video didn’t present the crash itself, Pal was capable of “hear him crash into the barrier” earlier than the video stopped.
As soon as the 2 started “speaking about what he was going to do,” LeVasseur stated that he “didn’t have full protection” on his automobile, mentioning that “he wanted to modify it earlier than we did the rest.” LeVasseur then known as his automobile insurance coverage firm (Insurance coverage Firm) to make adjustments to his coverage, asking that his complete deductible be decreased from $2,000 to $500 and that collision protection be added with a $500 deductible. That decision passed off at roughly 12:25 a.m. on March 28, with the coverage adjustments “locked in” at 12:01 A.M. that day.
After calling Insurance coverage Firm, LeVasseur “waited a short while” earlier than calling the police to report the accident, which Pal attributed to LeVasseur’s want to “present time between every part taking place.” Whereas ready, LeVasseur advised Pal he was going to inform the police that, upon coming to the nook, he swerved to overlook a deer and crashed. LeVasseur needed Pal to say that she had not seen the crash however had been following “somewhat behind.”
Shortly earlier than 2:00 a.m., LeVasseur reported the accident to Insurance coverage Firm and made a declare on his coverage for it. He reported that the time of loss was 1:00 a.m. The declare report additionally included Pal’s identify and telephone quantity. Due to the timing of the coverage adjustments and the declare, Insurance coverage Firm flagged the declare as doubtlessly fraudulent and referred it to one of many firm’s investigators (Investigator).
Pal, though she was prepared to assist LeVasseur initially, advised Investigator that she had “lied to the police” concerning the evening’s occasions and that, moderately than swerving to keep away from a deer, LeVasseur had been making a drift video on the time of the accident. She additionally advised Investigator that she was current for the policy-change telephone name and that the accident preceded the decision.
Insurance coverage Firm in the end didn’t pay the declare.
The State charged LeVasseur with one depend of committing a fraudulent insurance coverage act as a result of LeVasseur offered a “assertion or illustration figuring out that the assertion or illustration comprises false or fraudulent data regarding any truth materials” when submitting his insurance coverage declare—particularly, whether or not LeVasseur knowingly misrepresented the circumstances surrounding his accident.
LeVasseur challenged the sufficiency of the proof supporting his conviction on two grounds. LeVasseur argued that Pal’s testimony was inherently unbelievable and due to this fact couldn’t assist his conviction. Citing inconsistencies and contradictions in Pal’s testimony, he contends that Pal’s statements and testimony concerning “the occasions and timing of the automobile crash had been materially inconsistent, patently false, and lacked corroboration.”
A courtroom should ordinarily settle for the jury’s dedication of witness credibility. The selection between conflicting testimony is throughout the province of the jury. Witness testimony is inherently unbelievable and should likewise be disregarded whether it is (1) bodily unattainable or (2) apparently false.
The district courtroom denied LeVasseur’s directed verdict movement as a result of it decided that Pal’s testimony was not inherently unbelievable and that the inconsistencies and contradictions recognized by LeVasseur introduced a “credibility query . . . that’s finest left to the jury” and was influenced by LeVasseur’s request that she misinform the police. Pal initially reported to Officer that she was following LeVasseur on the time of the accident, then came across him afterward. However at trial, Pal testified that she had not been following LeVasseur on the time of the accident and as a substitute was pulling into her driveway when he known as her concerning the crash. It doesn’t run so counter to human expertise that an individual initially would misinform police about occasions surrounding a automobile accident at her finest good friend’s request, motivated by a want to guard him. Given everything of Pal’s testimony concerning the various accounts, the inconsistencies recognized aren’t of a form to render Pal’s testimony inherently unbelievable.
LeVasseur’s inherent improbability problem fails for the extra cause that there was different proof corroborating Pal’s testimony that LeVasseur knowingly submitted a fraudulent insurance coverage declare.
The Courtroom of Appeals concluded there was adequate proof from which the jury may have decided that LeVasseur knowingly dedicated insurance coverage fraud by means of his assertions concerning the circumstances of the accident.
Taken collectively, Pal’s testimony together with the opposite circumstantial proof constituted adequate proof from which the jury may have discovered past an inexpensive doubt that LeVasseur was conscious that the assertions he made in his insurance coverage declare surrounding the timing and particulars of the accident had been false.
LeVasseur’s conviction was appropriately confirmed.
There isn’t a excuse to make use of an insurance coverage firm authorized requirement that each coverage should begin at 12:01 A.M. on the date of issuance to acquire additional protection for a loss that acquired after 12:01 A.M. however was bought after the accident. By so doing LeVasseur knew he was making an attempt to defraud his insurance coverage firm and that he had requested his lady good friend to assist his false declare. When it got here to a felony case she refused to take a fall with him and her testimony, corroborated by different proof collected by the insurer’s SIU and the police, resulted in a unanimous verdict of guilt.
© 2020 – Barry Zalma
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his apply to service as an insurance coverage advisor specializing in insurance coverage protection, insurance coverage claims dealing with, insurance coverage unhealthy religion and insurance coverage fraud nearly equally for insurers and policyholders. He additionally serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance coverage associated disputes. He practiced regulation in California for greater than 44 years as an insurance coverage protection and claims dealing with lawyer and greater than 52 years within the insurance coverage enterprise. He’s obtainable at http://www.zalma.com and email@example.com.
Mr. Zalma is the primary recipient of the primary annual Claims Journal/ACE Legend Award.
During the last 52 years Barry Zalma has devoted his life to insurance coverage, insurance coverage claims and the necessity to defeat insurance coverage fraud. He has created the next library of books and different supplies to make it attainable for insurers and their claims employees to turn into insurance coverage claims professionals.
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