After an unexpected and heated debate session that took place in the Florida Senate in March, lawmakers finally agreed on personal injury protection reform, which was aimed to minimize automobile insurance fraud.
Fraudulent claims in Florida were highest in the nation in 2011, with an estimated $1 billion loss for insurance carriers. Lawmakers were trying to prevent staged car wrecks where criminals cheat insurance companies; however, investigators discovered that the new no-fault PIP statute would not benefit Florida drivers much, because it truly does little to curb fraud or the amount of claims filed statewide.
Personal injury protection (PIP) refers to the coverage for medical bills after an accident has occurred. PIP is added into your monthly car insurance premium, which most likely has increased over the past few months. Shockingly, the average driver in Orlando now dishes out 58% more for their PIP insurance benefits than they did just two years ago. Unfortunately, the reform agreed upon has not done much to lower insurance premiums.
“It didn’t address that issue,” stated Lynne McChristian of the Insurance Information Institute. “The real issue costing you money is lawsuits.” Florida insurance companies were sued over 15,000 times last year. State Farm PIP Manager Brooke Teplitz stated that, “We are sued multiple times a day. Fifty to one hundred lawsuits a day.” Just 2% of the lawsuits being filed are from drivers. Roughly 98% are coming from attorneys representing medical centers or pain clinics.
The irony in this argument is that the insurance industry is again only telling a small portion of the story. A majority of these lawsuits are filed due to the unwillingness of insurance carriers to pay for medical treatment that has been deemed necessary, reasonable and related to the accident in question. Further, a majority of insurance carriers take the position that it is impossible for an individual to be injured in a car wreck with less than $1500.00 in property damage. This is known as a causation defense and has little in the way of scientific support. In fact, there are a number of studies that show an individual can suffer muscoligamentous and disc injuries to their cervical (neck) spine from an impact of less than five miles per hour. The insurance carriers attempt to scrutinize and defends such claims in an effort to make it as cost prohibitive for claimants and plaintiff attorneys alike. In turn, the insurance carriers are forcing plaintiffs to file lawsuits and purposely drag these cases out in an effort to deny delay and defend claims. The very issues that the insurance industry complains of, is of their own creation.
If the insurance industry was serious about limiting the amount of claims filed statewide and save Florida drivers on their monthly premiums, they should make a strong collective push to attack the lawyer referral services like 1-800-Ask-Gary and 411-Pain. Keep in mind we believe a strong percentage of individuals treating at Ask-Gary and 411-Pain. However, based on heavy advertising campaigns engaged by both referral services individuals who would otherwise not seek medical treatment are induced to treat and retain an attorney. In fact, the Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit against 411-Pain that was recently resolved under the condition that the referral service change its misleading advertisements in which they make bold statements that claims could be worth $100,000.00 or more and use depictions of law enforcement officers without stating they are paid actors.
The injury law attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are proud to not be affiliated with any lawyer referral service.