Category Archives: Insurance Claims

Appeal Court Backed Air Ambulance Firm in PIP Dispute

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed air-ambulance firm Air Methods Corp. in a dispute stemming from a traffic accident that resulted in the death of accident victim Lemar Bailey about whether the amount paid for helicopter services should be limited by Florida’s no-fault auto insurance law. The federal appeals court ruled that the air-ambulance firm is considered an air carrier under federal law and should be able to bill the child’s father, Lenworth Bailey, for costs that exceeded the limits in the state’s no-fault system.

Following the March 2013 accident, Air Methods Corp. billed $27,975 for its services. Bailey’s auto insurer, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., paid $6,911 under the fee schedule. His health insurer, Aetna Life Insurance Co. paid another $3,681. However, Bailey did not pay the remaining balance of nearly $17,400. He filed a potential class-action lawsuit alleging that the air ambulance company was trying to improperly collect amounts in excess of the fee schedule. However, the judge ruled in favor of the Air Method, which led Bailey to the appeals court that also rejected such arguments.

Click here to view the full article.

Comments Off on Appeal Court Backed Air Ambulance Firm in PIP Dispute

Filed under auto insurance, FL Legislation, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Lawsuits, Personal Injury Protection, PIP, PIP/No Fault

Roig Lawyers Partner Keith Hernandez Publishes Article in CLM Magazine on Autonomous Vehicle Technologies and its Impact on Insurance

ROIG Lawyers Deerfield Partner Keith Hernandez has published an article in CLM Magazine entitled “Keep Your Eyes Off the Road.” In the article, Keith discusses the emergence of autonomous vehicle technologies and its impact on traditional insurance.

Click here to read the entire article.

CLM Magazine is the premier source for content that addresses trends, topics of interest, and industry challenges for those in the claims and litigation management industry.

Comments Off on Roig Lawyers Partner Keith Hernandez Publishes Article in CLM Magazine on Autonomous Vehicle Technologies and its Impact on Insurance

Filed under auto insurance, Autonomous Technology, Claims Handling, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud, PIP/No Fault, Uncategorized

Two Miami Medical Clinics Raided for Staged Accidents & Insurance Fraud

Florida’s Department of Investigative and Forensic Services Bureau of Insurance Fraud and the Miami Police Department raided two South Florida medical clinics accused of paying for patients and fraudulent billing. Both clinics have been under investigation since early 2017 for recruiting people for staged accidents and billing insurance companies for thousands of dollars in treatments that they were not providing.

According to Captain Emissael Díaz of Florida’s Bureau of Insurance Fraud “Just in South Florida alone, most of your rates are going to go up 20 to 25 percent just because of the insurance fraud.” The captain stated that schemes of this kind are the reason insurance rates are going in South Florida.

The suspects taken into custody are facing several charges, including patient brokering, insurance fraud and grand theft.

Click here to read the full article.

Comments Off on Two Miami Medical Clinics Raided for Staged Accidents & Insurance Fraud

Filed under Florida, Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Fraud, Miami-Dade County, Miami-Dade Fraud

Former Dade City Police Officer and Two Others Charged in Insurance Fraud Scheme

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, former Dade City police officer Jonathan Lance Hobby and two others, Bruce Dewayne Wilson Jr. and Carl “Chuck” Roach Jr. were arrested for insurance fraud among other charges.

Hobby, Wilson and Roach were charged with combinations of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, filing a false police report, conspiracy to deal in stolen property and operating a chop shop. According to detectives, Hobby filed a police report and auto theft claim in May 2017 claiming his 2015 Dodge Ram 1500 truck was stolen from Rancho Bonito in Lakeland. The insurance company paid a claim to Hobby in the amount of $24,712.72.

Hobby’s truck was located at Wilson’s business, After Hours Diesel Service. Investigators say Wilson and Hobby orchestrated a scheme to falsely report the truck as stolen and sell most of its parts, which Roach knew about and actually participated in dismantling the truck.

All three suspects were arrested and booked into the Pasco County Jail.

Click here to read the full article.

Comments Off on Former Dade City Police Officer and Two Others Charged in Insurance Fraud Scheme

Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Fraud, Uncategorized

Overreaching Assignments & Their Impact on Your Claims Handling

Recently, there has been an uptick in changes to the language in the assignment of benefit contracts which emergency mitigation companies are having Insureds sign.

One of the changes in the contracts is that the Insured’s execution of the assignment of benefits authorizes the carrier to not only directly pay them for their services, but to also include them on all checks regardless of the coverage they are for. For example, if the carrier pays the insured under Coverage A for repair, Coverage C for contents, or Coverage D for additional living expenses, this contractual language may require that the AOB company be listed on these checks.

A second change in the contracts is that the assignment of benefits may have a single sentence seeking to exceed any emergency services cap the carrier’s policy may have. Once the carrier receives this contract, the clock begins ticking on the time frame for the carrier to respond. If the carrier fails to respond within the timeframe detailed in the policy, this cap is waived.

With an influx of insurance claims due to recent natural disasters, being aware of these changes is key to how you handle these claims. Hopefully, this overreaching on behalf of the AOB companies will be the final push needed to have some laws passed to regulate this AOB realm.

If you have any questions on this issue, please feel free to contact our First Party Property Team at info@roiglawyers.com.

ROIG Lawyers attorneys have provided presentations on Assignment of Benefits as well as other areas that are beneficial to our clients in the Property Insurance industry. For more information on how to schedule a complimentary Continuing Education course via webinar or live presentation, please contact the Marketing Department of ROIG Lawyers.

Comments Off on Overreaching Assignments & Their Impact on Your Claims Handling

Filed under AOB, Assignment of Benefits, Claims Handling, FL Legislation, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Property Insurance

Florida Man Arrested for False Insurance Claim

Insurance Journal has reported that a Florida man, Claude Milhomme, was arrested for attempting to file a false insurance claim for his vehicle. According to the Department of Financial Services’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST), Milhomme filed a claim in September stating water damage to his vehicle caused by Hurricane Irma in the amount of $225 for a diagnosis, after hours fee and storage fee.

DFAST received a suspected fraud tip about one month later. After an inspection by state investigators, it was revealed that Milhomme’s vehicle was mechanically inoperable prior to Hurricane Irma’s landfall in September of 2017.

Click here to view the full story.

Comments Off on Florida Man Arrested for False Insurance Claim

Filed under auto insurance, Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Fraud

UPDATE – Pilot Theodore R. Wright III Pleads Guilty to Insurance Fraud

UPDATE – Pilot Theodore R. Wright III Pleads Guilty to Insurance Fraud

According to KLTV 7 of Texas, Theodore R. Wright III, the well-known pilot who survived a 2012 Gulf of Mexico crash and used an iPad to record his time in the water, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to commit arson. Wright and three others also pleaded guilty to buying, over-insuring and ultimately destroying planes, boats, and cars to collect cash.

In May 2017, the Wright and his co-conspirators, Shane Gordon, Raymond Fosdick, and Edward Delima were charged with using fire to commit a felony and aiding and abetting, arson of property used in interstate or foreign commerce or used in an activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud.

Click here to view the full story.

Comments Off on UPDATE – Pilot Theodore R. Wright III Pleads Guilty to Insurance Fraud

Filed under Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud

Attorney Fee Multipliers in PIP and the Search for a Guiding Lodestar

In October 2017, the Supreme Court again addressed the issue of contingency fee multipliers to awards of attorneys’ fees. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Plaintiff attorneys felt a tinge of delight and perhaps delayed buying their lottery tickets in hopes that this new decision will help them win an attorney fee multiplier if they prevail in a PIP suit. While HB 119 in 2012 eliminated multipliers from newer PIP lawsuits, there are still many older cases that are now being resolved which face the possibility of large awards of attorney fees going to Plaintiff attorneys. Additionally, there is no penalty for a Plaintiff attorney to attempt to pursue a multiplier, thus the key question is how to best defend against this potential windfall.

To understand the new decision in Joyce v. Federated Nat’l Ins. Co., 2017 Fla. LEXIS 2070 (Fla. 2017), it is beneficial to look back at the Florida Supreme Court’s interpretation of how and when to award a multiplier. The seminal decision regarding the applicability of multipliers is still the Quanstrom decision from 1990. Specifically, the requirements under Quanstrom necessary to find a fee multiplier are:

  1. Whether the relevant market requires a contingency fee multiplier to obtain competent counsel.
  2. Whether the attorney was able to mitigate the risk of non-payment in any way.
  3. Whether any of the factors set forth in Rowe are applicable, especially, the amount involved, the results obtained, and the type of fee arrangement between the attorney and his client. Id. at 834.

Joyce re-iterates that a market inquiry as to whether a multiplier was necessary to obtain competent counsel is the primary factor under the Quanstrom[1] requirements. This is important to PIP litigation since there are few, if any, potential PIP lawsuits that cannot find a warm and welcoming PIP attorney eager and willing to take the case.

Interestingly, the Florida Supreme Court in Joyce noted that the United States Supreme Court in 1992 revisited the issue of contingency fee multipliers in Burlington v. Dague, 505 U.S. 557 (1992), concluding that “enhancements for contingency [was] not permitted under the fee-shifting statutes at issue…[and] Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, reasoned that enhancement for contingency would likely duplicate in substantial part factors already subsumed in the lodestar.” Joyce. at 17, citing Dague at 567.

Under Joyce, the Florida Supreme Court separated itself from this federal precedent and continued to allow the use of multipliers under Florida law. The fear was that without the possibility of contingency multipliers some individuals with meritorious claims would fail to obtain competent counsel and the Florida Supreme Court noted “their usefulness in helping parties secure legal representation and their importance in ensuring access to Courts.” Id. at 17-18 citing Bell v. U.S.B. Acquisition Co., Inc., 734 So.2d 403, 411 (Fla. 1999). In other words, the Florida Supreme Court was concerned that Justice Scalia failed to consider that without a potential multiplier there is a danger of never obtaining competent counsel. Id. at 25. But with the thousands of PIP lawsuits being filed every year, can a Plaintiff truly make an argument that finding a PIP attorney is difficult?

Under Joyce, it appears that contingency fee multipliers are alive and well under Florida Law, and there are some circumstances where they are certainly warranted. Paradoxically, the best argument against the applicability of multipliers to the majority of PIP lawsuits comes from the Joyce opinion itself. The majority opinion which intentionally diverged from federal precedent on multipliers in order to preserve access to courts appears to have absolutely no concern about whether prohibiting multipliers in PIP lawsuits somehow prevents individuals from obtaining fair access to courts or diminishes one’s ability to obtain competent counsel. The dissent also argues that PIP litigation suffered no decrease in volume after HB 119 and that there was no negative impact on an insured’s ability to obtain counsel in PIP cases. Id. at 40-41. The dissent even cites the Plaintiff’s own expert testimony that there is no lack of attorneys willing and able to take PIP cases and “that same fee expert begrudgingly ‘hate[d]’ to admit that plaintiffs’ attorneys throughout the entire State of Florida are abundantly motivated to take PIP cases (even though PIP cases contain no possibility of a multiplier).” Id. at 42.

The majority opinion in Joyce actually agreed with the dissent that PIP litigation is different because of the number of attorneys willing to take PIP lawsuits. The majority opinion notes that PIP should not be compared to other types of first-party litigation since, “the fact that there are attorneys who specialize in PIP claims, which can be handled with relative ease in a volume practice, does not correlate with the availability of competent attorneys who are willing to litigate other types of insurance coverage cases, where generally more complex issues are raised.” Id. at 25. Clearly, the majority opinion is willing to differentiate PIP lawsuits from other types of first-party litigation due to the ease of obtaining a competent attorney.

Ultimately, none of the Quanstrom factors changed with the recent Joyce decision. However, the new opinion does provide an excellent analysis and justification as to how multipliers developed under Florida law and why the Supreme Court continues to think multipliers are necessary to ensure fair and equal access to the courts. It is important to keep in mind that Joyce does not mean a PIP lawsuit can never justify a multiplier. In fact, the Quanstrom decision is a PIP lawsuit[2]. Understanding the best way to contest aggressive attempts to collect fee multipliers and create an appropriate record at the trial court level remains important in PIP litigation.

[1] Standard Guaranty Insurance Co. v. Quanstrom,555 So.2d 828 (Fla. 1990)
[2] Other notable PIP lawsuits have been awarded multipliers after there was substantial and competent evidence to justify that a multiplier was necessary.  See  State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Palma, 555 So.2d 836 (Fla. 1990)

If you have any questions on this issue, please feel free to contact our Insurance Services Team at info@roiglawyers.com.

ROIG Lawyers is a minority-owned litigation firm with a primary focus on Insurance Defense Litigation. We serve as primary counsel for numerous national and regional carriers and corporations related to all aspects of insurance litigation from seven offices throughout the state of Florida. ROIG Lawyers does not intend to create an attorney-client relationship by offering this information, and anyone’s review of the information shall not be deemed to create such a relationship. E-mail list/s from ROIG Lawyers are intended to provide information of general interest to the public and are not intended to offer legal advice about specific situations or problems.  You should consult a lawyer with regard to specific legal issues that require attention.

Comments Off on Attorney Fee Multipliers in PIP and the Search for a Guiding Lodestar

Filed under auto insurance, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Personal Injury Protection, PIP, PIP/No Fault, Uncategorized

Panama City Woman Sinks SUV for Insurance Money

According to the Panama City News Herald, 65-year-old Debra Jenkins has been arrested and charged with insurance fraud after having her SUV driven into a lagoon and pretending that the vehicle was stolen. The police had reportedly found a stick inside the vehicle on the driver’s floorboard which appeared to be purposely placed there to hold the gas pedal after the car was removed from the water. Video evidence from Jenkins’ neighbor also showed her SUV leaving her home together with another SUV, then only the second SUV returning that night with two people inside.

Jenkins later admitted to deputies that she and a friend had devised the plan to get rid of the vehicle and claim insurance money.

Click here for full article.

Comments Off on Panama City Woman Sinks SUV for Insurance Money

Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Fraud

Florida Man Caught Staging Crash on Dashcam

According to the Sun Sentinel, a Florida man was arrested on Friday, October 6th in connection with an alleged staged crash that occurred in December of 2016. 65-year-old Mauril Aldophe of Delray Beach plotted to force a tow truck to rear-end him. Unfortunately for Mr. Aldophe, the tow truck was equipped with a dashcam capturing footage of him abruptly stopping for no apparent reason and then driving forward for several feet, throwing his car into reverse, and then slamming back into the tow truck.

According to investigators, Mr. Aldophe went to a medical clinic three days after the incident and filed a personal injury claim stating a truck had rear-ended him while he was stopped at a red light.

Mr. Aldophe now faces charges for insurance fraud and participation in an intentional crash.

Click here for full article.

Comments Off on Florida Man Caught Staging Crash on Dashcam

Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Insurance Claims, Insurance Fraud, Personal Injury Protection, PIP, PIP/No Fault