The Sun-Sentinel has exposed how Florida’s plaintiff attorneys exploit Personal Injury Protection (PIP) lawsuits in a front-page investigative report published Jan.16.
The Fort Lauderdale-based newspaper shows that plaintiff PIP lawyers collect huge court fees for themselves and force all drivers to pay higher insurance premiums.
We thank the Sun-Sentinel for exposing attorneys who abuse the legal system. The public needs to know that their PIP insurance premiums are going to pay off greedy plaintiff lawyers.
The lengthy article and accompanying stories document how plaintiff lawyers have charged as much as $500 an hour while arguing in court that their clients were due as little as 1 cent.
“Lawyers and other people in this field have found ways to make some money here,” the article quoted Florida Deputy Insurance Commissioner Belinda Miller as saying. “The lawsuits are increasing because this has become a fairly well-oiled machine on the side of the people that bring those cases, and it’s lucrative.”
How lucrative? The Sun-Sentinel uncovered a PIP lawsuit against UAIC in which a Miami-Dade attorney received $13,370 in fees while winning only $2.53 for his client. UAIC appealed and won.
Another lawyer collected just $2,000 for his client and took home $160,000 for himself in a PIP lawsuit, the article reported.
It’s our view that plaintiff attorneys are running PIP mills. The article says one attorney in Broward County has filed 3,300 lawsuits in 5 years. Those numbers are ridiculous.
The article also found that Gulfstream Medigroup of Palm Beach Gardens had filed almost 1,200 PIP lawsuits through early November, and that attorney Brian LaBovick owns Gulfstream while having his law firm handle the lawsuits.
LaBovick is essentially double-dipping, we think, putting court awards in one pocket and legal fees in the other.
The rising costs from PIP lawsuits and big attorney fees are hurting Florida drivers, the Sun-Sentinel article said.
“The cost of this coverage is going up,” deputy insurance commissioner Miller told the newspaper. “I think it’s going to be hard to keep insurance affordable to everybody.”
We say it’s time to do something about the problem. When the legislature meets in March, it must pass laws that give drivers much-needed financial relief.