All drivers in Florida are required to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) as part of any automobile insurance policy. Instead of going through the court system, these policies are meant to pay medical bills quickly. Yet the Florida system appears to have multiple problems with fraud, and the Florida Legislature is considering getting rid of the no-fault system.
No-fault automobile insurance began in the 1970s. As advocates explain, “its central idea was that an injured accident victim would simply receive compensation from his or her own insurance company instead of having to show the fault of another driver to recover losses from the other driver’s insurance company.” This insurance scheme was meant to reduce insurance premiums because every case would not have to go through the judicial system to be resolved.
Those familiar with the law’s history note that “in theory, no-fault laws should reduce the number of lawsuits filed to determine who is at fault in accidents. Fewer lawsuits should help trim car insurance companies’ costs, and thus car owners’ premiums.” That is not what happened.
2012 Changes to Florida Law
Governor Rick Scott said “that fraud involving no-fault claims collectively has hit motorists by as much as $1 billion a year through the increased costs of coverage.” As a result, Scott signed into law changes to the Florida no-fault law. The changes encompass in the new law should be understood by Florida residents. For example, the law requires that those involved in accidents seek treatment within 14 days. Altogether the law allows up to $10,000 in benefits for emergency medical conditions and $2,500 for non-emergency conditions to be recovered. These changes are meant to reduce fraud in the PIP system, though it is unclear how the changes will affect recovery for those actually injured in these incidents.
The changes are not without their opponents. For example, a group of acupuncturists, massage therapists, and chiropractors sued to prevent the new law from taking effect. In fact, in that case the trial court issued an injunction in March 2013 to keep the law from taking effect. The state appealed the decision. It was just last month that the Florida First District Court of Appeals ruled against the challengers, holding that the medical providers had not shown the new law infringed on their rights. As a result, the injunction was cancelled, and the law was put into effect.
Even with the 2012 changes to the PIP law, there are some legislators that are looking into doing away with PIP altogether. The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee held hearings in early November 2013 to solicit input from both the insurance industry and citizens alike. At this time, the committee is considering specific language for a bill proposal.
As this debate makes clear, there is much confusion and disagreement about these laws. If you are injured in an automobile accident it is important to retain an attorney to protect your rights and have a professional on your side.
The attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, PA. will provide a free, no obligation consultation at our South Florida offices located in Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties. If you are unable to travel, we can see you at your home, hospital, or other location which is convenient for you. Call us at (305) 653-5555 or contact us to schedule your free consultation today.