What’s a quick way to make an illegal buck from Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in South Florida? Be part of an auto accident.
An average of 211 accidents take place every day in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, based on the latest figures from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department. That’s a lot of chances, about one every 7 minutes. A lot of those produce injuries – real and fake.
A woman took advantage of an accident to rack up $14,000 in illegitimate auto insurance claims, according to police reports. On Oct. 9, 2012, Rodrigue Baptiste of Boynton Beach and his son were in an accident near the intersection of West Gateway Boulevard and State Road 807 in Boynton Beach. A woman driving a Ford Explorer pulled out of a driveway and struck their Ford Focus.
A few minutes later – before the police arrived –another woman arrived in her truck and told the man that she wanted to be listed as a passenger in his Focus. He agreed, which was a mistake.
The next day, the woman went to Delray Chiropractic and Wellness Center, where she filled out insurance claims for injuries supposedly suffered in the accident. The clinic billed her insurance company for $14,000 in PIP and other benefits and the company paid about $7,500 of that.
And you wonder why your PIP premiums keep going up.
A week later, Baptiste filed a PIP claim with his insurer, Liberty Mutual Insurance. He said that she was in the car at the time.
The story fell apart when investigators interviewed him. Baptiste admitted to police that the woman was never in the car. The driver of the Ford Explorer had already reported that she saw only the father and son in the car when the accident occurred.
Pressed a little harder, Baptiste said that he “did not want to disrespect her in front of the police.” Why didn’t he tell the truth upfront? No one asked him, he answered. Baptiste was charged with insurance fraud and released on bail.