Make us your home page
Instagram

Auto-accident fraud bill bogs down Senate

Three crash dummies representing the Put the Brakes on Accident Fraud coalition, a business-backed group that cites “out-of-control lawyer fees” as a major PIP abuse, greet Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, on Tuesday outside the Senate chamber.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

Three crash dummies representing the Put the Brakes on Accident Fraud coalition, a business-backed group that cites “out-of-control lawyer fees” as a major PIP abuse, greet Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, on Tuesday outside the Senate chamber.

TALLAHASSEE — The debate got prickly, lawmakers got confused by conflicting amendments and top Senate Republicans were dealt another embarrassing loss. But after 41/2 hours of debate Tuesday, the Senate's attempt to curb auto-accident fraud is ready for a vote.

"This is about being in the arena," Senate President Mike Haridopolos said after a strange afternoon session that focused on reforms to personal injury protection insurance, or PIP.

"Even when I don't agree with people, I appreciate their dedication to these complex issues. And this is what the Senate is supposed to be."

In many ways the Senate on Tuesday resembled an arena, with a packed gallery of lobbyists looking down to the Senate floor.

The real drama started when rebellious Republicans joined with Democrats to amend the bill in a way Haridopolos opposed.

The amendment, filed by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Coral Gables, would benefit lawyers in PIP-related lawsuits.

After it passed 24-15, Haridopolos stopped debate, left the dais and began conferring with Senate leaders. When debate restarted, Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, requested a re-vote on the proposed amendment.

Gaetz said his no vote was in error. Diaz de la Portilla wasn't buying it — saying the "bully pulpit" had been used to "mysteriously reconsider the overwhelming vote by which my amendment was adopted."

"I hope people were not swayed by bare-knuckle politics," Diaz de la Portilla told his colleagues.

The amendment ultimately passed a second time, 22-18, with Gaetz and Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, switching sides.

In all, senators slogged through roughly 30 amendments that members tried to tack onto the PIP legislation, SB 1860. Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who is sponsoring the measure, said the process is sometimes complicated but ultimately helped improve the final product.

"Some of the amendments made the bill better," he said. "That's what the amendment process is for, to get input from other senators."

The Senate proposal still looks much different than the one that passed the House. The Senate proposal would allow people in an auto accidents up to 14 days to seek initial treatment; the House allows seven days. Chiropractors are eliminated from participating in PIP under the House version but not in the Senate.

The House bill also allows insurance companies to interview policyholders under oath when investigating potentially fraudulent claims. The Senate rejected an amendment that would have allowed examinations under oath.

The House's version also caps attorney fees in nearly all cases except class action suits.

The significant differences make it more difficult for lawmakers to reach a compromise before the 60-day legislative session ends Friday.

Gov. Rick Scott has said making changes to the state's auto insurance laws are one of his top legislative priorities for 2012.

On Tuesday, he wouldn't say if he'd call lawmakers back in special session if they fail to reach a deal this week.

"I'll figure that out on Friday," he said.

Times/Herald writers Steve Bousquet, Katie Sanders and Toluse Olorunnipa contributed to this report.

Auto-accident fraud bill bogs down Senate 03/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 10:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Construction starts on USF medical school, the first piece of Tampa's Water Street project

    Health

    TAMPA — Dozens of workers in hard hats and boots were busy at work at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive Wednesday morning, signaling the start of construction on the University of South Florida's new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

    Construction is underway for the new Morsani College of Medicine and USF Health Heart Institute in downtown Tampa. This view is from atop Amalie Arena, where local officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate the first piece of what will be the new Water Street District. The USF building is expected to open in late 2019. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  2. Tampa Bay among top 25 metro areas with fastest growing economies

    Economic Development

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy among 382 metro areas in the country for 2016. According to an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tampa Bay's gross domestic product, or GDP, increased 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to hit $126.2 billion.

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy in the country for 2016. Rentals were one of the areas that contributed to Tampa Bay's GDP growth. Pictured is attorney David Eaton in front of his rental home. 
[SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  3. Tampa Bay cools down to more moderate home price increases

    Real Estate

    The increase in home prices throughout much of the Tampa Bay area is definitely slowing from the torrid rate a year ago.

    This home close to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa sold for $3.055 million in August, making it Hillsborough County's top sale of the month. [Courtesy of Bredt Cobitz]
  4. With successful jewelry line, Durant High alum Carley Ochs enjoys 'incredible ride'

    Business

    BRANDON

    As a child Carley Ochs played dress up, draped in her grandmother's furs.

    Founder Carley Ochs poses for a portrait in her Ford Bronco at the Bourbon & Boweties warehouse in Brandon, Fla. on September 19, 2017. Ochs is a Durant High and Florida State University graduate.
  5. At Menorah Manor, planning paid off during Irma

    Nursing Homes

    ST. PETERSBURG — Doris Rosenblatt and her husband, Frank, have lived in Florida all of their lives, so they know about hurricanes.

    Raisa Collins, 9, far left, works on a craft project as Certified Nursing Assistant Shuntal Anthony holds Cassidy Merrill, 1, while pouring glue for Quanniyah Brownlee, 9, right, at Menorah Manor in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15. To help keep its patients safe during Hurricane Irma, Menorah Manor allowed employees to shelter their families and pets at the nursing home and also offered daycare through the week. The facility was able to accommodate and feed everyone who weathered the storm there. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]