Jeff Atwater, the Chief Financial Officer of the State of Florida, announced that the last month resulted in nine arrests for personal injury protection (PIP) fraud in the Miami area. Charges were filed in eight separate cases involving seven staged accidents, the individuals were arrested for their alleged involvement in the filing of almost $250,000 in fraudulent billings submitted to eleven insurance carriers.
Most PIP fraud groups include a number of elements including the organizer, who recruits the other members to stage motor vehicle accidents; the patient broker, who convinces participants to seek medical treatment following the accident for non-existent injuries; and occasionally, licensed medical providers, who agree to falsify medical documentation in exchange for payments billed under a patient’s PIP benefits as part of their auto insurance policies. The Division of Insurance Fraud arrested these individuals for acting in one or more of these roles.
PIP fraud, while certainly an issue in both the medical and legal professions, is not nearly as prevalent as some would have us believe, especially those in the insurance industry. In fact, PIP fraud has been declining considerably since the passage of legislation in May 2012 that established stronger penalties for medical providers who commit PIP fraud and a 14-day window for accident victims to seek medical treatment.
While this trend is good news, it is important to realize that PIP coverage is an important benefit for drivers, especially considering the risk taken in South Florida where many drivers are either underinsured or uninsured altogether. This coverage guarantees that you will have medical coverage for injuries resulting from an accident, regardless of who is at fault.
So be sure to review your auto insurance coverage to make sure that you are adequately protected. While your PIP coverage is mandatory, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not, but can be as, or more, important when it comes to protecting you should you find yourself in a motor vehicle accident.
If you or someone you care about has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, please call our experienced attorneys for a consultation.