A new study from the Insurance Research Council (IRC) found that the percentage of auto-related personal injury protection (PIP) claimants represented by attorneys rose to 36 percent in 2012—up from 31 percent in 2007 and more than double the rate found in a similar study in 1977.

The study, “Attorney Involvement in Auto Injury Claims,” also found that represented claimants:

  • Were more likely to receive treatment in a pain clinic and to undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for similar injuries.
  • Were more likely to be involved in apparent claim abuse.
  • Received, on average, lower net payments (total payments adjusted for claimed economic expenses and applicable legal fees) than those who did not hire attorneys.
  • Waited longer for payment of claims.

The rate of attorney involvement varied significantly by state: Florida had the highest rate among no-fault states, with more than half of PIP claimants hiring attorneys in 2012; Kansas had the lowest rate, at 12 percent.

“The attorney involvement trends shown in this study undercut two of the envisioned benefits of no-fault auto injury systems: a less adversarial settlement process and more timely payments,” said Elizabeth Sprinkel, senior vice president of the IRC. “The role of attorneys is implicated in many of the factors driving up the cost of auto insurance.”

IRC Attys in Auto Claims

The study was based on more than 35,000 auto injury claims closed with payment under the five principal private passenger coverages. Twelve insurers, representing 52 percent of the private passenger auto insurance market in the United States, participated in the study.