Pilot program of self-driving cars comes underfire

It has come to light through an investigation conducted by the Associated Press that four of the 48 self-driving cars on California’s roads have been involved in four accidents since September 2014. In a recent article published on Quartz.com, two of the accidents occurred while the self-driving vehicle was driving, and the other two accidents occurred while the human safety driver was in control.  The two companies responsible for the self-driving vehicles were Google and Delphi. Google’s Director of self-driving program, Chris Urmson, revealed that the tech giant’s fleet has experienced 11 minor accidents in 1.7 million miles in six years since the driverless car program began.

The AP reported that the national rate for reported “property damage only crashes” is about 0.3 per 100,000 miles driven, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Administration.  If one uses this statistic and compares Google’s crashes in about 140,000 miles the crash rate seems high.

The self-driving car program is required to submit data to the California Department of Motor Vehicles; however this information has not been readily released to the public based on the state’s Vehicle Code which requires accident reports concerning traffic injuries or fatalities to remain confidential.

Many believe that as a matter of public policy the government does not want to reveal to much information since they do not want these tech companies to be put under a microscope while this program is still in its testing phase.

The self-driving car program has yet too prove to be as flexible and responsive as humans on the road in dealing with unpredictable situations on the road.

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2008)

Insurnace Fraud Sweep has resulted in 31 individuals charged

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced today at a press conference the success of “Operation Flames and Flood Two” which charged 31 individuals with insurance fraud.  According to the State Attorney’s Office the operation focused on public adjuster, Jorge Fausto Espinosa, who was hired by policy holders to damage the insured homes for the purpose to collect ill-gotten gains from insurance companies. Jorge Fausto Espinosa, who is already facing charges in a similar fraud case from last year, called “Operation Flames and Flood One”, deliberately staged fire and water damage claims to residential homes in Miami-Dade County, Lehigh Acres, and Naples.

“Operation Flames and Flood Two” focused on the expansion of Espinosa’s fraud activities through his Miami-Dade company, Nationwide Adjusters LLC, into the west coast of Florida into Collier and Lee counties. According to the State Attorney’s Office operation two involved 20 staged fires with loses close to $ 7 million. Several homeowners also face charges for their role in the fraud.

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Filed under Insurance Fraud

Century Woman charged with Auto Insurance Fraud

The Florida Department of Financial Services Insurance Fraud Division charged Trisha Michelle Milstead a resident of Century, FL with one felony count of insurance fraud. Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille stated that on September 8, 2014 Milstead was involved in a vehicle accident, but at the time her vehicle policy had lapsed for non-payment. She then reinstated her insurance policy on September 9, signing a statement that there had been no previous damage during the lapsed time period.  Two days after the policy was reinstated she filed a claim for the accident and damage associated.

Trisha Milstead remains in the Escambia County Jail with bond set at $10,000 and is scheduled for an arraignment hearing next month.

Click here for news article.

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Filed under Insurance Fraud

Insurance agent sentenced for 8 years for racketeering

On May 12, State Attorney Bill Eddins announced the arrest of Randall Peterson. Peterson was a Cantonment insurance agent who conducted a fraudulent insurance scheme while operating under multiple business names which involved the theft of several hundred thousand dollars of commissions and bonuses from American National Insurance Company and Liberty National Insurance Company.

Peterson’s scheme began with him advertising job opportunities on the Internet for his fictitious company, College Consultants of the Gulf Coast. He then had hundreds of applicants provide information for life insurance which  he and his associates expressed to the job applicants as a free job benefit. The prosecutor’s office showed that Peterson used the information from the job applicants to complete life insurance applications that he submitted to the insurance companies in order to receive advanced commissions, which were as much as 130 percent of the first year premiums and bonuses.

Randall Peterson was found guilty of racketeering and money laundering by Circuit Court Judge Ross Goodman.  The state will request at a future hearing that restitution be set at an amount over $500,000.

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2008)

Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee (FIFEC) Conference

Roig Lawyers attorneys and healthcare policy advisor will speak at 23rd annual Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee (FIFEC) Conference on June 12, 2015 in Orlando, FL.  Nelson C. Bellido, Dennis La Rosa, Miguel Roura, and Diego Arredondo will present “Mechanisms Available to Adjusters During Review for Regulatory and Compliance Issues”.  The presentation will focus on recent developments in the law, insurance adjuster review process for regulatory compliance issues, administrative regulation and the relationship to PIP under §627.732(11), and PIP amendments and licensing issues.

FIFEC is a non-profit corporation comprised of special investigative unit investigators, law enforcement personnel and dedicated individuals whose purpose is to organize and present an annual statewide educational seminar related to deterring, detecting, investigating and prosecuting insurance fraud. FIFEC is proud of its mission to provide insurance fraud education and training by giving grants to the law enforcement and criminal justice community that attend what is now known as the annual FIFEC Conference.

About Roig Lawyers

Roig Lawyers is a multi-practice Florida Litigation firm with an unfaltering growing presence in the legal market celebrating 15 years of service, with more than 100 attorneys in 6 offices in Deerfield Beach, Miami, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Tampa, and Tallahassee. Roig Lawyers offers unparalleled legal representation in the areas of commercial litigation, construction, corporate law, real estate, banking and finance, labor and employment, and all phases of insurance defense litigation.

For more information about Roig Lawyers, visit www.roiglawyers.com.

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Filed under Insurance Fraud

Three Arrested in Lauderdale-by-the Sea PIP Scam

On May 6, 2015, the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud announced the arrest of three Broward County men on charges of insurance fraud. The men reportedly collected more than $77,000 in insurance payments after staging a Lauderdale-by-the-Sea car crash, recruiting and paying people to feign injuries and undergo unnecessary therapy.

Ronie Petidos, 34, of Coral Springs, Patrick Logene, 39, of Fort Lauderdale, and Marc la Pierre, 27, of Coconut Creek, each face a single count of insurance fraud. Each of these felony charges carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

The arrested individuals staged an automobile accident using a hotel van filled with passengers who participated in the scam and sent the participants to clinics that they controlled.  The arrested van passengers include Shaeronda Jackson, Kennsly Giles and Jeffrey Louis of Fort Lauderdale, Jean Regisma of Lauderhill, Stephen Blanc of Lauderdale Lakes.

Ronie Petidos and Marc La Pierre were previously arrested in 2014 for their role in another staged accident that occurred in 2012. The criminal case is still pending in Broward County Court.

Clink on the link for the Florida Department of Financial Services announcement.

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2008)

Allstate battles in Appellate courts

Allstate is under fire in various courts addressing the language of its policy following the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in Geico Gen. Ins. Co. v. Virtual Imaging Services, Inc., 141 So.3d 147 (Fla.2013). In Virtual Imaging, the Court ruled in favor of Virtual Imaging finding that GEICO had not made the election in the policy that they would use the Medicare fee schedules of Florida’s PIP statute to reimburse the medical providers.

Multiple appellate courts have been asked to address the issue of the language in Allstate Insurance Co.’s policy regarding its election to use the Medicare fee schedules to limit benefit reimbursements. The various Appellate courts are addressing the following question: “Did Allstate provide the requisite notice that it would use the fee schedule payment limitations authorized by Subsection 5(a)(2)?”

The following cases are under review throughout Florida’s Appellate courts:

Allstate v. Stand-Up MRI

Case No. 1D-14-1213

First District Court of Appeal

This case includes several consolidated county court appeals. Allstate is the Appellant, and former Judge Gary Farmer represents the Plaintiffs. The First DCA ruled in favor of Allstate in March (see earlier post titled, 1st DCA Upholds Allstate Use of Medical Fee Schedules). On April 24, the First DCA denied Appellee’s April 2nd motion for rehearing, rehearing en banc and certification.

Allstate v. Markley Chiro.

Case No. 2D-14-3818 in the Second District Court of Appeal on cert. question of great public importance

Allstate is Appellant

The case was fully briefed in February, 2015 and argument is requested.

Fla. Wellness v. Allstate

Case No. 3D-15-0151

Third District Court of Appeal

There are five consolidated county court appeals. Allstate is the Appellee. Marlene Reiss represents the Plaintiffs/Appellants. The briefing has not yet begun.

Ortho. Specialists v. Allstate

Case No. 4D-14-0287

Fourth District Court of Appeal

There are several consolidated county court appeals. Allstate is the Appellee. Former Judge Gary Farmer represents the Plaintiffs. The appeal was argued on April 14th.

Florida Wellness v. Allstate

Case No. 15-11590

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

The federal district court’s summary judgment order is being appealed by Plaintiff South Florida Wellness. Allstate is the Appellee. The briefing has not yet begun.

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Filed under Case Law, Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2008)