Twelve states, including Florida, have no-fault car insurance laws, which allow victims of car accidents to recover damages for car accident quickly through their own insurance companies. In exchange, claims are processed quickly but victims can only sue for suffering and pain in cases of severe accidents. These laws were created to ensure that victims – especially those without medical insurance – could recover money quickly. However, some experts claim that the laws are now broken and are contributing to insurance fraud.
In Florida, drivers must have car insurance to drive and this includes personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This insurance covers the medical costs of the car’s drivers and passengers up to $10 000. According to the Consumer Federation of the Southeast, however, this coverage has created some unintended effects, so that Florida is now the nation’s leader in staged car accidents.
According to Walter Dartland of the Consumer Federation of the Southeast, the laws have allowed criminals to steal billions of dollars through staged Florida pedestrian accidents and car accidents – by claiming up to $10 000 at a time. The problem is so bad that experts claim organized crime is involved, sometimes going so far as to smuggle people into the US to take part in staged Florida car accidents.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau in Florida, the problem is not so much the law itself as the fact that the system gives people access to money – and anytime there is a possibility of attaining money, there will be a certain element interested in taking advantage of that. Another problem is that it is relatively easy to open a medical clinic in Florida. This allows criminals to work with unscrupulous medical professionals in order to stage Florida car accidents. According to investigators, some of the clinics opened for this purpose provide no medical help at all, but only bill insurance companies.
Florida law requires insurance carriers to pay victims within 30 days of a claim being filed. If insurers fail to pay, healthcare professionals and victims can start legal action against the insurer. In 2010, 2779 suspicious claims in Florida were forwarded to the National Insurance Crime Bureau by insurance companies. This represents a 119% jump in such suspicious cases between 2008 and 2010.
The effects of such fraud are serious. Insurance fraud costs Florida about $1 billion a year and increases the insurance costs for all drivers. In fact, the average family with two cars will pay $100 more annually to cover the losses the insurance industry loses to fraud. There are other, more serious, consequences as well. Even staged Florida car accidents can and do lead to real injuries. When someone stages an accident, they sometimes rear-end other cars or intentionally cause a small accident. Such accidents can still lead to serious brain injuries, whiplash, and other problems for victims. As well, insurance fraud casts doubt on everyone, including real victims of car accidents. Many Florida car accident victims with legitimate injuries find that they have a hard time convincing insurers of their injuries, simply because insurers now look at Florida claims with some built-in suspicion.
Are you having problems with an insurer after a Florida car accident? Have you been in a serious car accident? Contact the Flaxman Law Group; our legal teams in Hollywood, Miami, and Homestead have extensive experience with insurance company negotiation and with Florida car accident claims. Arrange for a free, no-obligation consultation today to understand your options and rights after your accident.