Bobby gives the plaintiff lawyer perspective on No Fault insurance and provider lawsuits during a conference for the Association of Defense Trial Counsel
On March 8, Robert Raitt led an auto No Fault Panel Discussion for the Association of Defense Trial Counsel in Michigan. The event is for Michigan insurance defense attorneys and was held at Andiamo’s Riverfront in Detroit. Bobby discussed the various issues that arise in litigation of No Fault PIP cases when providers file lawsuits, as well as the Covenant case.
I’ve written about the problem we have with provider lawsuits in the past. In many ways, the provider litigation and provider lawyer explosion we have seen in just the last few years is tied into the PIP fraud and ambulance chasing we see.
Here’s how provider lawsuits now usually work: A lawyer files a lawsuit on behalf of a doctor, medical office or MRI facility to secure his bills; or has intervened in a pending No Fault PIP lawsuit because the medical provider doesn’t trust the plaintiff attorney or believes the plaintiff attorney will compromise the bill too much. Then the attorney will try to take an attorney fee on the compromised amount.
For instance, in my blog post, “How to stop No Fault insurance fraud (and lower Detroit’s high auto insurance rates), I outlined the glaring problem in our state when our No Fault medical provider lawsuits are misused:
There are some plaintiff personal injury law firms that primarily handle first-party No Fault litigation and provider cases, and some of these law firms are committing outright fraud. They will look up the police reports of automobile accident victims and aggressively solicit them. This includes illegally sending solicitation letters, but also even sending representatives to the house. They will then send these auto accident victims to a network of doctors, physical therapy, and chiropractors for small whiplash and back injury cases. These providers work up the medical bills and charge the accident victims’ auto No Fault insurance companies.
The money is good. These lawyers will take one-third to 50% of the medical bills from the eventual settlement. Anything they settle for the actual client from the auto accident tort case is just gravy.
A solution to the provider lawsuit epidemic
There’s one solution that would eliminate much of the provider lawsuit fraud, and that will drastically stop a lot of the medical fraud we see in auto No Fault litigation these days.
I believe the solution is a truly reasonable medical provider fee schedule. It is time. A truly fair fee schedule will stop much of the excesses and insurance fraud that have come to Michigan in recent years. It now deserves a place in our auto No Fault insurance system. In my blog post, “How I would change Mayor Duggan’s D-Insurance Plan to actually protect Detroiters,” I explained that a truly fair No Fault medical-provider fee schedule would accomplish the following important goals:
- Lower auto insurance prices.
- Preserve and protect the No Fault benefits that auto accident victims need.
- Remove a lot of the ugliness and PIP fraud that we all see from a small but growing number of lawyers and law firms.
- Streamline billing for medical providers, doctors and hospitals; facilitate prompt payment and eliminate the need for costly litigation.
- Eliminate most of the lawyer provider lawsuit industry entirely, as doctors and medical providers would be paid reasonably charges promptly.