Verdict for the Defense

As a trial recap, the plaintiff, Danais Santana, asserted that she has $17,000 in medical bills as a result of an October 2009 accident. The Plaintiff filed, years ago, and before any of these people were involved, a proposal for settlement for $4,250. Therefore, if this plaintiff received a verdict totaling roughly $5,500, our insured would be exposed to approximately $200,000 in attorneys’ fees.

The Plaintiff presented her own testimony at trial, which went very poorly, as this plaintiff was involved in three prior accidents. The plaintiffs then just simply read the previous testimony of Dr. Robert Martinez, our expert. The plaintiffs then called Dr. Freed, Chiropractor who had seen the plaintiff after this motor vehicle accident. The cross examination of Dr. Freed went  well,  Dr. Freed had to admit that he didn’t have knowledge of the plaintiff’s three previous accidents, or the extent of the injuries that she sustained in these accidents. Despite this, he did not change his opinion.

 To finish the case we played the deposition of Dr. Ravipati, treating physician, whose testimony was confusing, but in any event, established that because of the inaccurate medical history the plaintiff had given him, he could not determine within a reasonable degree of medical probability that there was any injury caused by the October 2009 accident.

 The jury determined there was no causation of any damage as a result of the October 2009 accident, and came back with a defense verdict in approximately 20 minutes.

 In my opinion, any time that we can get a plaintiff or a claimant lying, it is devastating to their case.

Doctors Warn That MRIs Are Often Overused

Here is a link to a New York Times article that provides confirmation that MRIs are overused and not clinically important unless correlated with symptoms.

Click here to view article

Staged Crash Crackdown

The Tampa police busted these clinics for staging accidents in Hillsborough County:

Doctor Florida Rehabilitation located on 2123 W. Dr. MLK;
Injury Health Care Therapy located on 5537 Sheldon Road;
Recovery Rehabilitation Services located on 7025 W. Hillsborough Ave.; and
Healing Touch located on 6821 W. Hillsborough Ave.

We will continue to keep you posted on these developments.

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Conflicting Authorities When PIP Benefits Cut Off

Apparently there are conflicting authorities as to when an IME permits an insurer to cut-off PIP benefits.  According to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, the question as to when an IME serves to cut-off an insurer’s obligation to pay PIP benefits is a question of fact for the jury.  United vs. Asclepius Medical, Inc. (2010).  In United vs. Asclepius Medical, Inc., the Circuit Court addressed in its appellate capacity whether the date of the IME, the date of the subsequent cut-off letter, or the date the clinic receives the cut-off letter is the date when the insurer can cut-off paying PIP benefits.  The Court evidently refrained from ruling on the issue by holding such a scenario represents a question of fact for the jury to determine. Alternatively, however, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit held in United vs. Canal (2010) the date of the IME is the date on which the insurance company can cease making PIP benefit payments.  Based on these conflicting rulings in the Circuit Court, we can expect the Third District Court of Appeal to resolve this issue.

Florida Law Update

In Attorney’s Title Insurance Fund, Inc. vs. Gorka, the Florida Supreme Court finally resolved the issue of whether a joint offer or proposal for settlement which is conditioned on the mutual acceptance of all joint offerees is invalid and unenforceable.  According to the Florida Supreme Court, such an offer or proposal for settlement is invalid because neither offeree can independently evaluate or settle his or her respective claim by accepting the offer or proposal.

As you may know, the 2001 Amendment to section 627.736(11), Florida Statutes, requires a PIP insured to provide presuit notice to the insurer before filing an action for overdue benefits.  In Menendez vs. Progressive Express Ins. Co., the Florida Supreme Court held that the 2001 Amendment cannot be applied retroactively to an insurance policy issued prior to the effective date of the Amendment.

In Liberty Surplus Ins. Co. vs. First Indemnity Insurance Services, Inc., the Fourth District Court of Appeal held that an insurance broker can be liable to an insurance company which suffers a loss as a result of the broker’s own fraudulent and/or negligent actions when providing information connected to the application for coverage.

Florida Law Update

In the Holland v. Barfield matter, the Fifth District Court of Appeal determined that in a wrongful death case the trial case erred in compelling a defendant to produce all computer hard drives and all cellphone SIM cards as the Order did not protect against disclosure of confidential and privileged information, nor did it establish a limit or time frame.

In the Shaw v. State Farm matter, the Fifth District Court of Appeal determined that an examination under oath of a medical provider in a PIP matter does not have to submit to an examination under oath.  The Fifth District Court of Appeal certified the question to the Supreme Court on this issue.  As a result, the Supreme Court will make a determination as to whether or not a medical provider has to submit to an EUO.

Finally, in the Hill v. State Farm matter, the Second District Court of Appeal determined that an insurance company is not responsible for attorney’s fees if the insured filed suit simply as an effort to seek attorney’s fees for the normal process of adjusting the claim.