According to Bloomberg News (June 28, 2010), insurance fraud in Florida has reached new levels as more and more policyholders are intentionally causing auto accidents to generate medical claims. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that “staged” accidents in the state of Florida climbed 58 percent to nearly 2,000 in 2009. Tampa is one of the cities where many reports of fraud have been filed recently, with the number of intentional accidents quadrupling in this city alone last year.
Throughout the state, insurance companies are taking a hard look at crashes that may show signs of fraud. In addition to pursuing drivers, a conglomerate insurance board called U.S. Car Insurers is also on the lookout for doctors who engage in these schemes and who are suspected of medical claim fraud. According to the USCI, auto insurance fraud for coverage of bodily injury totaled between $4.8 billion and $6.8 billion in 2007, and they are looking to reduce that amount drastically by cracking down on guilty parties. In the process, some people who have legitimate claims are being refused adequate coverage or are being made to jump through hoops just to receive compensation for their injuries.
Experts believe the economic hard times since 2007 may be to blame for the recent surge in deliberate car accidents in Florida. The insurance industry is now looking to raise insurance rates across the board in order to cover the costs of fraud. In addition, other drivers on the road have to be extra cautious of people willing to cause accidents to receive payments for medical care they don’t need.
If you have been injured in an auto accident in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando or any other Florida community, it is vital that you contact a reliable auto accident attorney to fight for your case. A lawyer can help you defend your rights against an insurance company or another driver who isn’t willing to pay what you’re owed.
The Law offices of Lazarus and Lazarus, P.A. frowns upon fraud of any kind, especially insurance fraud, which makes it more difficult for our clients who have legitmate claims. If you know of anyone engaging in Insurance fraud, please contact the Florida Dept. Of Law Enforcement immediately.
In Florida, drivers must carry a minimum amount of car liability insurance because it is a “no-fault” state. This means that no fault is assigned to drivers when accidents occur and insurance companies automatically pick up expenses for medical bills and lost wages, up to the policyholder’s limit. However, the no-fault rule does not apply when it comes to paying for the car’s repair after an accident.
This means that insurance claims for car repairs are still based on fault. So, at the scene of a crash, it is vital that you never acknowledge your part in the accident (if any). Insurance adjustors can use this information against you to deny you benefits. Instead, simply exchange information and allow your insurance company to deal with the investigation. Similarly, be sure to make note if the other driver admits fault in the accident, as this information can be used to strengthen your case as well.
If you have talked to your insurance company and the insurer of the other driver and are getting nowhere, it’s time to hire a reliable auto accident attorney. An attorney can file the necessary documents to get the insurance company to pay. They can also expedite the process if you’re having trouble getting straight answers on your own. Although Florida is a no-fault state, there is still plenty of room under the law to fight for the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve ever been involved in an auto accident in Fort Lauderdale, you know how scary the experience can be. In the moments just after a collision occurs, most people are in shock for a few minutes and many people aren’t sure of the steps they should take immediately after a crash. Here’s a list of auto accident basics that can help you expedite the claims process:
1. Stop your vehicle. Never flee the scene of an accident, even if it wasn’t your fault.
2. Check for injuries to yourself and your passengers. Call 911 immediately if anyone is hurt in your vehicle. If you can move safely, check the driver/passengers of the other vehicle(s) as well to see if they need emergency assistance.
3. Call the police if the accident is serious or if it is a hit and run. Minor fender benders don’t need police attention in most situations.
4. Exchange information. Regardless of fault, you have to exchange information with the other driver(s). Be sure to provide and receive names, phone numbers, addresses, license plate numbers, insurance information and driver’s license numbers. Get contact information from witnesses as well.
5. Document the scene and the damage. Use your cell phone camera or a digital camera to take pictures of all vehicles at the scene or as soon as possible. Take note of the weather conditions, the other driver’s car and any other pieces of pertinent information.
After you’ve taken these steps, contact your insurance company and report the accident. Also, be sure to seek medical attention for any injuries you may have received. This step is a crucial part of your personal injury case against another driver who is responsible for your injuries. Be sure to call a Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney to handle your case. Insurance companies will work hard to deny you adequate coverage and an experienced lawyer can help you recover damages for your injuries.
As of June 17, 2010, the city of Fort Lauderdale’s website claims that all tourism-based businesses are yet unaffected by the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. However, there is real concern among residents, business owners and tourists alike that the spill may soon reach the South Florida coast and its beaches.
The Fort Lauderdale city website states that “Greater Fort Lauderdale and Broward County are not within the projected impact area” of the oil spill. However, officials also admit that winds, tides and continued leakages could drastically affect the path of the oil over the coming weeks.
Signs That the Spill May Affect Tourism
Many travel companies are also looking at this issue very seriously in South Florida. According to USA Today, the travel booking website Orbitz announced an “Open Beach Guarantee” on June 14, 2010 that offers travelers full refunds on hotel stays in South Florida through July 31st as the spill continues to grow. If the government closes a beach within 20 miles of the property at which you booked a room, you get a full refund. The same guarantee applies if the beach is declared “dangerous” for visitors. No announcements have been made on refunds for air, train or car travel.
If you have been affected by the oil spill in Fort Lauderdale or the surrounding areas, you may wish to consult with a personal injury attorney regarding your situation. How this oil spill will affect residents, workers and tourists will remain to be seen over the coming months and years, but it is never too soon to talk to a professional legal representative about health risks or injuries you may have received as a result of the spill.