New FL Chamber poll shows voters support legislative action to curtail PIP legal fees

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce today urges legislative leaders to eliminate from current law a ?ontingency fee multiplier?that has allowed personal injury lawyers to increase their legal fees by 250 percent in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance disputes. The courageous effort by Florida Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, and House Appropriations Chairwoman Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, is strongly endorsed by Florida voters, who overwhelmingly support caps on legal fees in PIP cases, according to a new statewide poll issued by the Florida Chamber. The poll, conducted April 19-23 by Public Strategies Inc., surveyed 800 registered voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. In the poll, voters were asked: ?ould you say that you favor or oppose limiting attorney fees in personal injury protection lawsuits to $10,000 ?the maximum amount that insured drivers or passengers can receive in PIP medical benefits?? Fifty-seven percent of voters responded to the question that they supported fee caps; 37 percent opposed them. Additionally,

  • 69 percent of voters said they believed that even if attorneys?fees are limited, there will always be attorneys willing to take on personal injury cases;
  • 60 percent said they believed that legal reform is essential to making auto insurance more affordable in Florida; and
  • 59 percent said they believed that attorney fees paid out by insurers in PIP cases are then built back into the PIP rates that consumers pay, costing consumers more money.
Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber, said that while eliminating the contingency fee multiplier does not result in a cap on plaintiff? attorney fees in PIP cases, it will help to rein in the outrageous fees that fuel many questionable lawsuits ?often filed over just ten dollars or a hundred dollars. In the vast majority of these lawsuits, the injured driver or passenger have already received medical treatment, but plaintiff? attorneys still sue auto insurers on behalf of medical providers or medical referral services that have been ?ssigned?the PIP claim. For example, in one case, a dispute over a $41.64 medical bill led to $16,000 in legal fees for the plaintiff? attorney. In another case, a trial lawyer won $168,737.50 in legal fees over a $5,248 medical benefits dispute. Out-of-control PIP litigation and fraud in the system have spawned a cottage industry that is directly costing consumers ?insurance industry officials say the average two-car Florida family pays an extra $100 a year in PIP premiums because of these problems in the system, Wilson noted.. ?hy should a plaintiff? lawyer receive more in legal fees than an insured driver or passenger receives in medical benefits in a PIP case??Wilson asked. ?liminating the attorney fee multiplier makes good sense and is an important step toward reducing unnecessary auto insurance costs for all of Florida? consumers. We urge the full Legislature to support this good initiative and help end the legal abuses in PIP and to protect our state? motorists.?]>

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.